A MONTH-LONG residency at a major Edinburgh venue by Extinction Rebellion (XR) aims to mobilise the public “as actors for good” to help avert climate crisis.

Members of the non-violent ecology group moved into Summerhall last week as UK temperatures peaked at 38C.

Work by Turner Prize-nominated artist Monster Chetwynd features in the four-week residency by XR, which also includes screenings, workshops, talks and performances from the likes of Glasgow’s ecological festival UNFIX, Dumfries and Galloway’s Oceanallover and Earth Ensemble, a group actors, writers, poets, musicians who came together after XR’s “London rebellion” last year.

Organisers hope the residency will help activists connect with people who are yet to engage with the movement commonly associated with road blockades and streaking in the Commons.

The residency’s artistic “disruptions” include performances which will spill into the streets of Edinburgh, such as that by Alex Rigg of Oceanallover on August 10.

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XR says the art will help engage people with its three demands: that governments tell the truth about the climate, act now to reduce biodiversity loss and commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2025. It is also demanding that a citizens’ assembly oversees these changes.

The Edinburgh venue described the residency as a “reflection of our joint desires”, saying in a statement that “Summerhall invited XR to be a part of its festival programme this year, because it recognises that climate change (global warming) and biodiversity destruction affects us all and we have reached a point of crisis. XR have miraculously managed to place this on the political agenda and Summerhall believes in the power of the arts to make the world a better place.”

Local artist and XR member Natalie Taylor says she is excited to be a part of the “iconic cultural space” during the Fringe.

“It offers a channel for people to engage with XR’s three demands in a completely different space to a roadblock or a camp,” she says.

“Historically, art has always had a central role in society, crystallising a culture’s concerns and reflecting back its potential for change.”

Taylor is one of five curators of the programme following a call in May via Creative Scotland which generated almost 100 responses.

Applicants ranged from big names like Chetwynd to student and XR activist Saul Kenrick, who has just written his first play.

Co-curator and art expert Lucy Byford, who just completed her first year of postgraduate research at Edinburgh University says: “We had to be quite selective with the visual static art. A lot of the pieces proposed were workshops and performances, so we have a very full and diverse live programme,” she continues.

“That’s lucky too, we only have the two basement galleries to fill.”

Chetwynd, whose often surreal, multi-form work was exhibited at the National Gallery of Modern Art earlier this year, gave the group advice ahead of their “week of rebellion” in April, which combined art with protest and civil disobedience.

“She said she felt more at home with activists than any other people. She was so responsive, and is a great advocate for us,” Byford says. “We’ve found so many people responding in this way. They really want to help out.”

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XR have transformed the basement galleries into a warren of passageways and spaces. One is a literal and metaphorical dead-end.

Safe Haven, an installation by Gabrielle Gillot, was already picked up by galleries following its debut showing at Edinburgh College of Art’s Degree Show in June.

The lilac-coloured run (pictured above, right) features bare shelves and a scattering of empty tins: the eerie shell of a stock-piler’s stash.

“We’re very lucky Gabrielle applied,” says Byford. “She’s commenting on the logic, the ethics behind that apocalyptic standpoint. Who knows what’s going to happen in 80 years’ time? We don’t know how bad it’s going to be. But some people think it will be fine if they just stock up, that they can weather this storm.

“Gabrielle’s piece says that’s not a sustainable long-term solution. What happens when the food runs out? It’s an inadequate response to a climate emergency. It fails to address the core problem of why this came about.”

Among the prints, paintings, photography and sculpture from the likes of award-winning “artivist” Samantha Boyes is another installation called Office.

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Here members of the public can ask XR representatives questions on “the scary reality of the climate crisis” at any time of the day.

“XR Edinburgh doesn’t have an office, which is a total nightmare – we’re just going to be working in there and you can ask us anything,” says Byford. “It’s about demystifying what XR action is. People think it’s action on the streets, that we don’t have jobs. We do, and they are totally suffering because of the work we do – 90% of action is being glued to a computer and working incredibly hard, very similar to the lives of normal working people.”

XR Edinburgh are also curating Transformances, performances across Edinburgh in which attendees will become part of the action. “Transformances is about creating the conditions for systemic change,” says co-ordinator Robert Alcock.

“By engaging members of the public in performances, we hope to mobilise them as actors for good in the global drama that’s happening right now.”

“XR don’t have all the answers. Nobody does. But we do know that to change anything, we have to change everything, and it has to start everywhere — that is, right here and right now.”

The full programme will be available on the Extinction Rebellion Scotland and Summerhall websites and daily updates will be posted on Extinction Rebellion Scotland/Edinburgh social channels.Until August 25, Summerhall, Edinburgh, open daily, free. Tel: 0131 560 1580. www.summerhall.co.uk www.rebellion.earth www.facebook.com/XRScotland www.facebook.com/xrEdinburgh @ScotlandXr