Terra Incognita

Past Animacies, Terra Incognita.

Created by the Terra Incognita Collective

Collective Members: Nicholas Porteous, Morgan Johnson, Kevin Matthew Wong, Chris Whidden, Elizabeth Staples, Alexandra Simpson

Masks: Alexandra Simpson

Music and Compositions: Jacob McLean (percussion) and Anders Azzopardi (trombone)

Technical Director: Micah Champagne

Stage Management: Megan Gordge

In-House Chef: Danielle Snowden

Special Thanks to: Greenpeace, Chocosol, Toronto 350.org, Research and Degrowth, Broadleaf Theatre, Lumatronic.ca,  Shutteredeye.ca (Photography).


Past Animacies, Terra Incognita - Shopping in Kensington Market, Toronto.
Past Animacies, Terra Incognita. Shopping in Kensington Market, Toronto. Photo credit: ShutteredEye.ca.

We’ve all watched documentaries about global inequalities and climate change disasters. We’ve heard word that the government has muzzled scientists and that Geo-Engineers have solutions that sound like science-fiction novels. We understand that people are suffering because we can buy coffee everyday and a new dress for under $30.00. We have become comfortable beyond comfort. There are Band-Aids for the metaphorical and literal bullet wounds that exist in the world. Band-Aids include: being a vegetarian, voting “NO” to Stephen Harper, and carrying cloth bags to the store. Still, we can’t ignore the messages that transform our expectations of community and ourselves and that have led us towards all things “growth”. Growth is happiness we’ve been told.

“It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” 

Fredric Jameson

The Project

In July 2015, collective member Alexandra Simpson went to Can Decreix, a community in Cebere, France to research Degrowth, an environmental and social movement that challenges the collective growth imaginary and traditional development ideals. Degrowth does not means “less of” or “recession”, but rather it is an exploration of an alternative form of happiness found through community, collective experiences and respect for environmental rights. While there she conducted interviews, wrote daily journals, and took pictures of her experience. . It be came clear that change is reliant upon both an individual and community led commitment, and that one cannot exist without the other.

Terra Incognita Collective is a group of six artists who came together to explore the political and social dynamics relating to the environmental justice and in particular degrowth. The collective used the interviews from Can Decreix, visual and auditory stimulus from degrowth’s critics/opponents, and the collective’s own complicity and obstacles living in a growth oriented society.

Terra Incognita Collective sees that there is a need for new democratic practices within our political and artistic spheres. This is why we have chosen to use physical theatre (specifically mask) and site-specific work. The relationship a mask has with its audience, which is reciprocal in nature, can initiate a more active involvement from participants. The collective aims to better understand how active audiences can result in active community members.

Terra Incognita was produced as part of DocNow 2016 at the Greenpeace Warehouse in Toronto.