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Marfa Dialogues

Marfa Dialogues 2012

31 Aug 20122 Sep 2012


Marfa, Texas


Ballroom Marfa, alongside the Washington Spectator, The Big Bend Sentinel, Marfa Public Radio and Marfa Book Company, brought the second biennial Marfa Dialogues, a three-day symposium that included conversations around climate change and sustainability with artists, performers, writers, scientists and entrepreneurs — among them Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Rebecca Solnit, the distinguished critic and author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost and A Paradise Built in Hell. Other featured participants included David Buckland, Hamilton Fish, Cynthia Hopkins, Diana Liverman, John Nielsen-Gammon, Robert Potts, Tom Rand and Bonnie J. Warnock.

The 2012 Marfa Dialogues began with the opening of Carbon 13, Ballroom Marfa’s fall 2012 exhibition presenting newly commissioned works by artists that propose a creative response to climate change. Curated by David Buckland, Founder and Director of Cape Farewell, Carbon 13 featured eight international artists who have ventured alongside scientists to some of the world’s geographic tipping points, places profoundly stressed by our warming planet, and whose work aims to stimulate a wider engagement with the climate debate.

We kickstarted our symposium following the annual town-wide Marfa Lights Festival Parade at the Crowley Theater where we hosted a thought-provoking conversation about art and activism with Carbon 13 artists, moderated by Rebecca Solnit. The next discussion examined the ecological challenges facing the Southwest with leading environmental expert Diana Liverman and Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon. On Sunday morning, guests were invited to engage with the West Texas landscape on a guided nature walk led by Bonnie J. Warnock, chair of the Department of Natural Resource Management at Sul Ross University. Sunday continued with two events at the Marfa Book Company — a reading by Rebecca Solnit and a presentation by Tom Rand, a Cleantech investor and expert on carbon mitigation. The weekend concluded with a performance by New York-based artist Cynthia Hopkins of This Clement World, a musical that sails through the burning ice and myths of the high arctic.

With the Marfa Dialogues and Carbon 13, Ballroom Marfa continued its ambitious mission to discover new perspectives on social issues by examining them through the lens of artistic practice. By underlining the power of artistic engagement to communicate, on a human scale, the urgency of global climate change, the event hopes to inspire and envision the cultural shift required to build a sustainable society.

Featured Events

All weekend events were free and open to the public. Marfa Dialogues panels and conversations were broadcasted on Marfa Public Radio

  • Marfa Lights Festival parade
  • Carbon 13 Opening at Ballroom Marfa
  • Community dinner at the Capri
  • Discussion: Art and Environmental Activism, moderated by Rebecca Solnit at the Crowley Theater
  • Discussion: Climate Change and Adaptation, with Diana Liverman and John Nielsen-Gammon at the Crowley Theater
  • Michael Pollan in conversation with Hamilton Fish at the Crowley Theater, co-presented with The Dixon Water Foundation
  • Brunch and guided nature walk on Mimms Ranch with Robert Potts and Bonnie J. Warnock
  • Reading by Rebecca Solnit at Marfa Book Company
  • Presentation by Tom Rand at Marfa Book Company
  • Performance of This Clement World by Cynthia Hopkins at the Crowley Theater