As crowds gather in London for the October XR Rebellion, here’s a guest post from West Oxford local Ally Stott.
‘Being able to stop the city, stop the people, stop the shopping and consuming, by essentially doing nothing is still one of my favourite aspects of this performance.’
Doug Francisco founder, Red Brigade.
Becoming conscious of my breathing I take 3 long, slow. . . breaths, and start to become more aware of the contact, the relationship, with my feet and the vast body of Earth beneath and all around me. I notice in greater detail vibrant life, my ever-changing inner landscapes and the welcoming intimacy, the kinship I share with all creatures, all life.
Walking slowly, slowing all movements down I feel each step I take as the heal of my foot makes contact with the firmness of the pavement beneath it. This slow, conscious, attentive, deep listening movement is the performance activism of Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) Red Brigade. The Oxford branch of the Brigade was birthed into the world on Saturday on the new moon, in-between the rib-cages, skulls, stuffed animals and fossil exhibits at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s ‘Art and Science Extravaganza’, raising awareness about climate emergency, species extinction and social change, in collaboration with XR.
Slowing down, simplifying and paying conscious attention to the somatic experience of bodily movements is a rare breed in our world of speed, bigger, better and more.
The brigade passes slowly all eyes fixed forward, dressed head to toe in red (representing the blood of the species). Perception starts to shift, a portal opens another world starts to become known, a world within the world we currently know. This freedom this opening starts to touch some of the ‘audience’, the seeing of another world – other possibilities, other ways of being, people stopped in their tracks, by silence, by stillness – a red shoal of meditation in action.
A scent of something hidden beneath the surface, beneath the static and stress of over stimulated mind, presses against the membrane of conscious attention. An ancient and fluvial way of being starts pulsing in my cells, time gives up it’s linearity, conceptual boundaries melt, divisions between performer and audience, earth and sky, breath and tree evaporate, the field of experiencing now unified. Diversity and uniqueness manifest – speaking, walking, looking, breathing, growing, decaying, dying, budding in a unified field of being.
Bhutto Dance from Japan, the dance of death – created in response to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima has informed the creation of the Red Brigade. Over a decade ago I was part of the Bhutto group in Oxford. This expression of being, moving and performance activism weaves together core threads of my life; my love of meditation, walking, wild swimming, kinship, my Wholearth approach to life, soulful creativity, service, the imaginal, the spaces in between, slowing down, my deep love of and utter dependency on our vaster body – Earth.
‘Though as Red Rebels we are mournful and can appear to be grieving, that its sadness and sorrow that surrounds us, this is not the spirit of us, this is the play or status, not the message, the message is change. The possibility to change, the ability to change being the ability to survive.’
Thanks to Ally for her contribution. If you would like to share your personal experience of taking action in a time of climate emergency, in whatever form that takes, we’d love to hear from you.