Using public art to drive environmental activism, award-winning anti-gasoline nonprofit Coltura will take to the streets on June 2 to present The Gas Trap, a performance art piece that calls attention to the harm--and death--caused by our individual and collective use of gasoline.
The Gas Trap places performers inside an inflatable, 25-foot-high kinetic sculpture that serves as a stage and clear bubble for spectators to peer inside. The bubble is fabricated from clear window vinyl and connected by a hose to the tailpipe of a car, whose exhaust is depicted as filling the bubble while its inhabitants attempt to cope with the consequences. The Gas Trap invites viewers to explore the hazy intersection of gasoline, health, climate change, money, and guilt. Coltura will present The Gas Trap in a series of appearances throughout Seattle this spring and summer, starting June 2 at 5:30 p.m. and again at 6:05 p.m. at Westlake Park, 401 Pine Street, Seattle. All performances are free and open to the public.
The Gas Trap was conceived by Coltura founder Matthew Metz, designed by local artist Samaj, and fabricated by Seattle's inflatable specialists, the Design Nerds. "The Gas Trap shrinks the atmosphere we live within down to the size of a room," Metz explains. "We think of our atmosphere as boundless and capable of infinite absorption, but it is in fact a bounded space that is increasingly saturated with smoke, pollution and carbon dioxide coming from cars."
The performers in the Gas Trap are left to uncover the horrible effects of the collective use of gasoline. If there is no way out, will people turn on each other? Will we face the truth of what we've allowed our environment to become or will they continue to deny reality?
The Gas Trap's kinetic element is smoke, which appears to come from the tailpipe of an actual car. The smoke fills the trap and obscures the actors inside as we watch their world become inhospitable. The performers present an artistic vision of what it means to be human on a planet suffocating from our unnecessary reliance on gasoline.
"The Trap plays with our notions of responsibility and cruelty," Metz says. "Is the driver of the car responsible for filling the trap with smoke? Is he cruel for doing so? Or is he doing just what we all do-driving a car and emitting smoke from our tailpipe? If so, is there culpability?"
The Trap confines not only gases and people, but also the public's confused notions of responsibility that swirl around the use of gasoline, a fuel that is increasingly unnecessary due to innovations in electric cars and electric mobility.
The performance is written and directed by Cornish graduate Alyssa Norling and performed by Alyssa Norling and Grace Orr, Seattle-based theatre and movement artists who use the endless possibilities of public art for social change.