2 Degrees Festival

  • Workshop: Breakdown
    Break Down
  • JOIN US!
bottomMore information

A world without electric lights, a world without engines, is a different world entirely. It is a world that is alive. Our world of science and industry, of monocultures and monotheisms, marks a decisive shift in human seeing. Our world is not alive; it is a machine, not an animal, and we have become starkly desensitized to the reality beyond the asphalt and the street lights. - Paul Kingsnorth

Breakdown Break Down

Breakdown Break Down is a one week intensive workshop for understanding how the use of petroleum, in every aspect of our lives, limits our capacities to think about surviving climate breakdown.* How do we build a culture that does not rely on violent resource extraction and the destructive relationships this type of behavior creates in everything else we do?

How do we survive climate breakdown? Our sense of self needs to be changed as much as the world around us does if we are to realize a culture that will help us address this question and begin to repair the damage we have done. We need to account for our individual and collective industrialized petro-subjectivities.** This condition limits the types of things we do and how we imagine future human societies. Even if we passionately want to stop relying on fossil fuels, we have the much deeper problem of how we relate to each other, the places we live in, the food we consume, and the way we think the world.

The workshop uses embodied learning methods*** to open up our empathic capacities, thinking and imagination, to generate new narratives of survival, community, and more. These will be combined with discussions, and excursions to places that will help focus our efforts and make them resonant well beyond the week together. We will practice our post-oil subjectivities when we visit: the roof top of a high rise building, an underground tunnel, paddle on the river Thames in canoes, and spend time at an urban farm. Daily subjects of investigation will be: De-Industrializing Subjectivity, Deep Time, New Stories of Survival and Collapse, Re-Wilding the Planet and Ourselves, and Inhabiting a Culture of Survival and Living Well.

The workshop has limited space for 15 people. If you participate in the workshop, we ask that you commit to coming for the entire time. We will provide lunch and dinner for you each day. We have limited transportation support for those commuting who may need it. There will be an evening lecture series that is part of the programming and is intended to punctuate the day’s activities. The talks are open to the general public. Guest speakers will be invited to talk about subjects related to those explored in the workshop. A publication was made to accompany the workshop. It argues that a petroluem-induced sense of self is our biggest challenge to our survival and suggests ways we may challenge it. Copies of the book are free during the course of the festival. Digital versions can be downloaded from the festival web site.

* In his book "Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life" (2013), George Monbiot suggests swapping the term “climate breakdown” for “climate change” as the latter tells you very little about what is happening with global warming and the havoc it is wreaking, and the former tells it directly: ecosystems are breaking down.
** Petro-subjectivity is the sense of self that is normalized by the presence of oil in everything we do and all the relationships we have to the world.
***Embodied learning methods untether our full perceptual capacities when directed at a given situation. This happens with the help of simple techniques—like meditation inspired perceptual exercises to shift the way one looks at or hears something—to suspend reflection or rationalization until after the exercise is completed. Directed perception comes first followed by reflection, often with results that surprise or upend our routine ways of sensing and understanding things. This way of learning easily breaks down received ideological and metaphorical routines through which we regularly limit our incredible capacities. It can be used to perceive and generate wild narratives of our existence.

How do I join?

If you would like to join the workshop fill in the application form linked to the left and below. If you have any questions, please email workshop@breakdownbreakdown.net.

Who are the public speakers?

Click here or scroll down to see the list of people giving public presentations?

Who organized the workshop?

The workshop was organized by Brett Bloom with a great deal of support from Sam Trotman and ArtsAdmin.

What is the schedule?

Scroll down or click here to see the workshop schedule.

Workshop Application Form

Click the button to Apply!

Public Talks

Here is a list of public speakers. The talks are held in conjunction with the workshops. They are open to the general public. Space is limited so we advise arriving early to secure a spot. We will have descriptions of all the talks before the workshop starts.

Brett Bloom


Brett Bloom is an artist, activist, writer and publisher. He works mainly in collaborative groups, like Temporary Services, and situations. He regularly works with ecological issues. In the summer of 2015, Bloom will coordinate two long, intensive training sessions in London and rural Scotland. They are part of a multi-year effort called Breakdown Break Down, that mobilize others to articulate and build a civil culture to prepare for and survive climate chaos and breakdown. One key goal is to generate new stories that replace western petro-subjectivity, our industrialized sense of self and place, with other narratives and possibilities.

Erich Berger

Artist + director: Finnish Bioartsociety

Erich Berger is an artist and cultural worker based in Helsinki/Finland. His interests lie in information processes and feedback structures, which he investigates through installations, situations, performances and interfaces. His current explorations of deep time and hybrid ecology led him to work with geological processes, radiogenic phenomena and their socio-political implications in the here and now. Berger is directing the Bioartsociety in Helsinki and is lecturer at the Fine Art Academy Vienna. www.randomseed.org

Roberto Calzadilla

Bolivian Ambassador to the United Kingdom

The Ambassador will talk about the historic efforts of Bolivia to protect people, animals and the landscape, enshrined in what is called "Law of the Rights of Mother Earth" in their constitution.

Charlotte Du Cann

Writer, Editor, Community Activist

Charlotte Du Cann is a writer, editor and community activist, living in coastal Suffolk. She is Art Editor of the Dark Mountain books and the editor of "Playing for Time - Making Art as if the World Mattered" (Oberon Books). Previously a lifestyle journalist in London, she went on the road during the 90s and has written extensively about cultural and metaphysical downshift. Between 2008-14 she worked in grassroots communications within the Transition movement, including founding the Social Reporting Project and Transition Free Press. Her book, "52 Plants That Shook My World - A Radical Return to Earth" is published by Two Ravens Press.

Steve Wheeler

Writer & Therapist

Steve Wheeler is a writer, therapist and co-editor of the Dark Mountain Journal. He has been involved in Dark Mountain for the past 5 years, has run a number of rewilding workshops and performed as part of the Mearcstapa collective at the Uncivilisation festival. He is interested in exploring the challenges of life in a declining civilisation, in the revival of ritual, and in the links between thinking and embodied practice.

Isa Fremeaux & John Jordan

Artists & Activists

John Jordan was once described as “a magician of rebellion” by French newspaper Liberation, whilst the British Government uses the label: “Domestic Extremist”. Co-director of social art group Platform until 1995, he went on to co-found the direct action collective Reclaim the Streets and the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army. Isabelle Fremeaux was a Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies in London for 10 years, before she decided to desert Academia. She is pursuing her research-action in popular education, collective dynamics and creative forms of resistance. Together, they founded the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination.

where do we meet? click for map

Workshop Facilitators

Brett Bloom

Workshop organizer & Facilitator

Bloom has organized the workshop. He has conducted several other gatherings like this one. See the bio in the image above for more information.

Ximena Alarcón

Deep Listening Facilitator

Ximena Alarcón is an artist who engages in listening to migratory spaces and connecting this to individual and collective memories. She is interested in creating sound art works, using networked technologies, derived from listening experiences in interstitial spaces where borders become diffused, such as underground transport systems, dreams, and the ‘in-between’ space in the context of migration. Ximena has a PhD in Music, Technology and Innovation, from De Montfort University. She has studied Deep Listening practice with Pauline Oliveros and in 2012 she obtained a Deep Listening certificate. Since 2011 she has worked as a Research Fellow at Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice (CRiSAP).

Here is the workshop schedule:

  • 2015
  • 1 Jun 15


    • Introduction to the week
    • General discussion about climate breakdown, post-oil subjectivity, a culture of survival
    • Introduction to Deep Listening with Ximena Alarcón and related exercises
    1:00 PM
    • Lunch at Toynbee Studios (provided)
    • Excursion to the rooftop with a 360 degree view of London
    • Further Deep Listening exercises
    6:00 PM
    • Dinner at Toynbee Studios (provided)
    7:00 PM
    • Presentation: Brett Bloom, "Petro-Subjectivity" + book launch

  • 2 Jun 15


    • General discussion
    • Deep Listening exercises in relation to topic of the day
    1:00 PM
    • Lunch at Toynbee Studios (provided)
    • Excursion to underground tunnel
    • Further Deep Listening and embodied learning exercises
    6:00 PM
    • Dinner at Toynbee Studios (provided)
    7:00 PM
    • Presentation: Erich Berger, "Deep Time—Deep Futures"

  • 3 Jun 15


    • Listening session
    • General discussion
    • Deep Listening and related exercises
    1:00 PM
    • Lunch at Toynbee Studios (provided)
    • Excursion to canoe on the River Thames
    • Further embodied learning exercises
    6:00 PM
    • Dinner at Toynbee Studios (provided)
    7:00 PM
    • Presentation: Dark Mountain (Charlotte Du Cann and Steve Wheeler), "The Dark Mountain Project"

  • 4 Jun 15


    • Embodied learning exercises from a variety of disciplines, trainings and approachers
    • General discussion about survival, collapse, and the culture we would like to see post-oil
    1:00 PM
    • Lunch at Toynbee Studios (provided)
    • Excursion to Hackney City Farm
    • Embodied learning exercises
    • Readings and discussions
    6:00 PM
    • Dinner at Toynbee Studios (provided)
    7:00 PM
    • Presentation: Isa Fremeaux and/or John Jordan

  • 5 Jun 15


    • Embodied exercises
    • General discussion about animism, indigenous knowledge, and more
    • Embodied exercises
    1:00 PM
    • Lunch at Toynbee Studios (provided)
    • Further exercises
    • Wrap up discussion
    6:00 PM
    • Dinner at Toynbee Studios (provided)
    7:00 PM
    • Presentation: Bolivian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Roberto Cazadilla, "Law of the Rights of Mother Earth"

Credits and Allies

2 Degrees Festival is delivered by Artsadmin and supported by Arts Council England, the Ashden Trust and the European Commission Culture Programme as part of Imagine 2020.

Many people have helped or provided support for this workshop. Thanks go to: Bonnie Fortune, Nuno Sacramento and the Scottish Sculpture Worksshop for important support and conversations developing this work, Jenni Nurmenniemi and both HIAP and Frontiers in Retreat for important research support, Mari Keski-Korsu, and Kalle Brollin for their feedback on the essay that was made into a book for the festival. Special thanks to Sam Trotman who provided an enormous amount of organizational support.
The Danish Arts Council (Statens Kunstfond) provided support for the realization of the workshop.

+44 20 7650 2350 & workshop@breakdownbreakdown.net

28 Commercial Street, London