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Sarah Kanouse, Associate Professor and Program Head for the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts, has secured a residency at the Taft-Nicholson Center for Environmental Humanities for summer 2018 to complete the script for her performance “My Electric Genealogy,” an excerpt of which is forthcoming in the book Ecologies, Agents, Terrains (Clark Art Institute/Yale University Press). “My Electric Genealogy” is an original, hour-long solo performance that revisits family history as environmental history to imagine a livable future. Wearing a midcentury men’s suit, Kanouse embodies the legacy of her grandfather, whose 40-year career at the Department of Water and Power powered the city of Los Angeles, enabling its explosive growth contributing to today’s climate crisis.

The performance stages live narration, original sound, and choreographed movement over filmic imagery to make intimate the inheritance of crumbling, carbon-heavy infrastructures that imperil the planet and to probe the aesthetic, ethical, and practical responses they demand. It asks intimate, yet far-reaching questions about intergenerational environmental responsibility in what some scientists and scholars have called the Anthropocene – such as how are infrastructures, human lives, and other beings connected through environmental damage and the threat of catastrophic climate change? What mutual obligations do these relationships imply?”

“I am eager to start my summer residency at the Taft-Nicholson Center, my interest in which extends far beyond the material benefits of dedicated writing time,” Kanouse explained. “An environmental humanities research and education center is an ideal place to pursue a project such as ‘My Electric Genealogy.’ My creative work is deeply influenced by the environmental humanities and often operates at the intersection of art and scholarship.”

While her time at Taft-Nicholson will be spent largely writing, she also anticipates working on blocking diagrams and media design and would happily donate a collage of these materials to the Center. I look forward to regular dialogue with writers, scholars, students, and the community and would greatly value the opportunity to workshop my script in a public presentation during my time in the Centennial Valley.