CLIMA 2016 | The Psychoanalysis of Climate Change

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Cortada works: Do Not Open | Climate Refugees | Hot for Hialeah | Psychoanalysis of Climate ChangeReclamation Project | Flor 500
LTER : Everglades (Florida) | HJ Andrews (Oregon) | Hubbard Brook (New Hampshire)


Climakaze Miami


The Psychoanalysis of Climate Change by Xavier Cortada
This world premiere performance experience conceived of by Miami’s own Xavier Cortada, current Artist-in-Residence at Florida International University’s School of Environment, Arts, Society & the College of Arts & Sciences, and College of Architecture + The Arts exposes and examines the unnamed crisis of the human psyche around climate change and environmental collapse realizations–both in our consciousness and subconscious.  April 23rd, 2016 @ Miami Dade County Auditorium







Xavier Cortada, “Florida is… Red Wolves,” digital art, 2015. (

Xavier Cortada, “Florida is… Red Wolves,” digital art, 2015. (


RED WOLF walks into psychoanalyst’s office:

 [Fade in on empty stage. Xavier enters dragging large bags and objects.

Soundscape begins]


Hey there.
I’m sorry I’m late.

I know.

I say it all the time.

But, really, this traffic is crazy.

There’s something different with this traffic –it’s like I can’t understand where are all these people are coming from? What’s up with all the cars? Where is all this traffic chaos madness going?


I honestly try to plan ahead, but every time I think I’m gonna be early some other traffic jam, some other accident, some other damage gets in the way. It like it’s designed to extinguish you.

Look I hope you don’t think I’m ‘deflecting’ to draw attention away from my own actions, like you always say I do. I take our sessions seriously and I really try to be respectful of your time, but I have to work with the conditions that have been imposed on me. I’m not making excuses– it’s just the way it is these days.///

I hope you’re going to start the clock now and not when the session was supposed to start. I mean we should send the bill to the traffic jams…it just can’t be all my fault out there.

And yes I know it’s not your fault either, but you are here all comfy in your air conditioned office, and I’m under serious stressors—I mean freaking out. I just feel so vulnerable in all that traffic.

Obviously, I know that I owe you last week’s check, and I know that I’m always late in paying, but part of me questions the structure of our power relationship.   I mean I feel like I need you, but do I really need you? You also get benefits from me, don’t you? Besides the money…. you get to put me in your studies and point to my sickness to support your findings, and make more money, you get to show me off in the slides at your conferences, so there’s a lot of services that you get, and I’m the one who’s paying… to sit on this COUCH and hear myself talk. Does that sound paranoid?

Speaking of the COUCH… [1]

[fade in light of window center stage]

this COUCH is in the wrong place, isn’t it? it’s usually closer to the window, isn’t it? I know that I normally sit here and I look up. And I see that art piece. Today the sun rays are coming from a different vantage point… They normally come through and hit me. Not today. The sun’s not hitting me. But it’s just as hot.

Did you move the COUCH?  I know you moved the COUCH. Why did you move the COUCH?

Wasn’t too hot by the window I mean it’s still hot and we’re no longer by the window…Isn’t it hotter in here?

It’s fine. I’ll adapt…[2]

[chainsaw sounds end]


Projection Cue:        Picture #1


Xavier Cortada, "Astrid," (Antarctic Ice Painting), 2007.

Xavier Cortada, “Astrid,” (Antarctic Ice Painting), 2007.


This looks like an blue blob on a hankerchief. Maybe a nose bleed. A nose bleed from someone with blue blood.

Or someone who did too much coke.

At a wild party.

Wow… wild parties.

We used to have wild, wild parties. But those times are gone.

Back then, everyone used to share their shit. Dude. It was good.

Now, everybody is greedy. They hold on to their shit. And anything they gives you –anything anyone sells you isn’t pure. It is cut. Processed. It’s not real. It’s been changed, just to make a profit.

And they don’t care about the consequences.

You could wind up in the hospital. Or six feet under.

And there’s nothing you can do.

It’s all over. No more wild parties. No more sharing. No more sense of community. Just greed and bullshit.

Where did all the good times go?


Projection Cue:        Picture #2


Xavier Cortada, “Vostok,” (Antarctic Ice Painting), 2007.


That looks like a melting ice cream cone… with a Barbie on top.

They put the Barbie up there to make you eat it faster. Make you think you are licking her.

There are some sick folks out there.

But who are sick folks?

The lickers of guys who sat the Barbie on the cone.

I mean…

Subliminal advertising is all about that. Making you feel you need what you don’t even want.

Lick, lick, lick. [Strobe Lights]

Before you know it, you are done.

And you want another one.

Insatiable appetite. Eat, eat, eat.

Fast, fast, fast.

Now, now, now.

Before you know it. It will all be gone… and now you feel sick, bloated

Don’t get it. Doesn’t work for me.

Maybe if it was a Ken doll I’d feel different.


Projection Cue:        Picture #3 –


Xavier Cortada, "Drygalski," (Antarctic Ice Painting), 2007.

Xavier Cortada, “Drygalski,” (Antarctic Ice Painting), 2007.


Looks like a squirrel on a guys head. A dead squirrel. Could be a toupe.

I don’t know. Who the hell wears a toupe? Why?

You don’t want to let people know you’re getting old?

The way I see it, aging is better than the alternative. Why not age with grace. Why fake it. Why not respect the natural process?

Weird, you think you’re pulling the wool over everyone else eyes. But everyone sees you have a rug on your head.

The worst are people with combovers.

The guy with the toupe knows he’s cheating everybody else. He went somewhere and discretely put a few hundred dollars down to hide his baldness from the world.

But people with combovers… those are the worse. They are lying to themselves. As long as its their hair that is on their head—even if it is weighed down with a gallon of hairspray, they feel and act as if they have a full head of hair. No matter that it flies in the wind.

They’re living in denial.

They should just accept their fate. Embrace the baldness.

So many people out there are the same way. They hold themselves out to be one way when everyone else knows differently.

The sickest part is that others let them get away with their bullshit and help reinforce their belief that they got it right.

Sick stuff.

Why do that?

Why hold yourself out to be one thing. It’s as if you weren’t a …

Are you, a…


Are you an M.D.?

[Stage and House lights come up]

I know you’re not scientist but are you are a PhD? or are you an M.D.?

Are you a PhD? Or a Psy.D.

I always knew you were a psychoanalyst, but Don’t you also have to have like doctorate in medicine for this?   Nowadays, people get away murder claiming they’re not scientists, but the way you wield opinions around here, you better have some kind of doctorate behind your name.

I mean, I pay you enough for it!


I don’t want to beat a dead horse about the power relationship thing, but why if I miss a session I have to pay, but if you have to cancel for an emergency you don’t get to pay me?   What values are you placing on my time and your time?

Call me crazy, but I think this rule is an example of how our relationship is patently out of proportion and it completely reinforces a structure where it’s all about you and never about me, even though it’s carefully designed to seem like it’s about me.

You say you are protecting me, but only as long as you can do so implementing your profit making system.

Really, you’ve developed this entire practice that is structured to tame me, but there’s nothing to fix in me. There’s nothing wrong with me. There’s nothing wrong with being.

It’s everybody else that doesn’t know to take ownership, to take care. They just take take take take.

If we all used the common sense that we were born with, our innate sense of what is must be protected, we wouldn’t be so busy making these little plans of how to protect our personal stash of goodies, or our front yard, or our own little power grabs…we could actually really on each other for help…imagine that?

I know that sounds cynical but that’s just the way everybody works.   All they care about is themselves and you’re immediate family unit, they just want to get paid and don’t care about anything or anyone else.

It manifests right here… between us. In the minutes that were lost in traffic—I was late but it wasn’t my fault.  But you only see your side. You can’t be fair about. You can’t say, sure I’ll give you an extra five minutes at the end of the session. Or that you’ll pay for half the minutes.

It’s always win win win win win win win

And if I say something and I’m the one with the problem.

And if I tell you it is too hot in here you say that I’m anxious.

And if I tell you that the COUCH has been moved (and I’m the only one who would know since its me that sits on that COUCH) you say that I am being disruptive to your plan.

Okay okay

Okay I’ll stay on the COUCH.­­­

[light goes gets smaller around the couch center stage]

It feels that it’s the only place where when I say something no one gets to second-guess it.


Projection Cue: Picture #4


Xavier Cortada, "Leverett," (Antarctic Ice Painting), 2007.

Xavier Cortada, “Leverett,” (Antarctic Ice Painting), 2007.


This one looks like your pen blew up.

It does it looks like a big blue explosion.

I think about that guy in Mount Saint Helens who refused to leave his cabin. My sense is that it’s not that he was wanting to experience the explosion.   Maybe for him is that there was nowhere to go. That his experience was that lake and all those huge trees. He knew the explosion was going to destroy that reality.   And he didn’t want to be witness to a different one.

It’s a weird thing to visualize an explosion, I mean I’m looking at something static. Like a freeze frame of a massive a massive shockwave. I mean there’s a lot of power in the still image because you can sort of imagine what the full movie looks like.   But that’s just it it’s only a movie you know it’s fake. In real life you’ll only see it. You Live it. You smell it.   You feel it. I mean I guess you’d feel it.

I wonder what it’s like to really be in an explosion.

To know that you are in the middle of something so big, so transformational. Something that just completely changed every fiber, every structure, every thing that you have ever known.

I wonder if it would be something you could perceive. Or if you would be so distraught, pained. So freaking out about the inevitable, about the death and destruction that you wouldn’t be able to experience it.

Evening if you experienced it what the hell is the difference if seconds after you experienced there’s nothing to give you the ability to remember what you just witnessed because you are dead. Because your neurons just got themselves wrapped around the light post that looks like a pretzel.

Perhaps the man in his cabin was at peace in bringing about his own destruction. It was the mountain that he loved, and it was the mountain that killed him.

Would you say that what he did was wrong? Would you put him on your COUCH?

Would you say that the cops who banged on his door and begged him to leave were right?

Or was it the healthy thing for him to just disappear with everything else?

I don’t know…

He wasn’t ready for change.   Maybe the way I am not ready for this traffic.

You would probably put him on the COUCH, but not me.

I thought he was in total control.

I actually felt he enjoyed the explosion, and was completely absorbed it. So much so that he became part of it and flew as specs of dust across planet Earth for days and days and days.

You know… I wonder if this applies to my life////[3]

[We hear loud construction beeps…Lights come up to White Wash]

What do you mean the time is up?

I was just getting started!

I’m telling you a story that’s inspired by some very telling images that seems very interconnected, I don’t know why you want to just abruptly end the conversation.


I’m finally getting to something productive and useful. And what differences and extra few minutes make particularly when my 50 aren’t up since the session started late.   I mean if you can charge me for 50 minutes then let me at least speak for 50 minutes.

I mean you don’t have to listen for 50 minutes. I doubt you’ve even listened to 15 minutes of what I’m saying.   You’re probably back there figuring out how many more patients you have and how many more 50 minute sessions you have left this week and how much money you’re going to make by the time you’re done with us

Please let me have my 50 minutes.

You’ve got to give me a chance to be heard. To get my words out. To see if I can change things.

You can’t just sit thinking you have all the answers.

I have something to say.

And no no

No no you can’t no you cannot make everything about my diagnosis

No it’s not about my meds… or not not taking my meds

I don’t believe in the meds

Because they are your meds.

And you have already determined that without these meds I don’t work right

except you’re not an MD.

You don’t get to prescribe them.   You know nothing about the meds.

It’s just easy fix when things don’t feel comfortable for you.

It’s an excuse for you not to listen

And I’m not angry. I’m just telling you I am paying for 50 minutes of speaking and you can hear me speak for 50 f***ing minutes.   I am only paying for the time that I am speaking so I speak for 48 minutes I am paying for 48 minutes. If I speak for 32 minutes I will pay for 32 minutes.

but I am tired of having things always go your way.

Sure I’ll leave the room. But I am not stopping the session until I get my full 50 minutes.

You see what I get out of this is a COUCH. It’s like a motel for the mind.

I need a place where I can lie down and speak my mind for 50 minutes. I need a place not a person.

So, I’m taking this fucking COUCH into the hallway and I’m finishing my session there.

[Xavier pushes the whole couch installation off stage left.]

When I’m done, I’ll write the check for fifty minutes of COUCH-rent and I’ll slip the check under the cushion.

[Fade in window effect center stage. Leave on until last line.]

And then you’ll have nothing.

By the window.

Under the sun.

[Fade to black]



[2] MAKE the greening




Red Wolves (for performance of "The Psychoanalysis of Climate Change" at Miami-Dade County Auditorium on April 23rd, 2015.)

Red Wolves (for performance of “The Psychoanalysis of Climate Change” at Miami-Dade County Auditorium on April 23rd, 2016.)


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