After an afternoon full of presentations at the Beursschouwburg, a winner was picked out of twelve nominees. This year the first place went to Maria Lucia Cruz Correia, a Portuguese-Belgian environmental artist and activist, and her project The Voice of Nature.
Lynn Elshof and Nina Vurdelja
The Roel Verniers Prize was established in the name of the late director of the TheaterFestival and was founded by his family as a stimulating gesture for young emerging performing artists from Belgium. Maria Lucia is now the sixth in line to take home this prize. We spoke with her the morning after the ceremony, still slightly surprised but obviously moved and very grateful.
As an artist Maria Lucia has been active in the radical performance and environmental community for over a decade. She implemented numerous projects in Belgium and abroad, raising awareness about the climate change and an urge to redefine the human relationship with nature. ‘The Voice of Nature is an investigation of the destructive effect of climate change’, she tells us, ‘I aim to introduce non-alienated rights of nature into the constitution and urge for environmental crimes to be processed in court.’ Scheduled for the autumn of 2018 and co-produced by Kaaitheater, the project is envisioned to be a site-specific court performance, ‘a contemporary ritual’ as Maria Lucia would like to imagine it.
The idea and inspiration for the project came from the artist’s recent visit to Ecuador and the USA. There she engaged in the protests against the environmental crimes in the Amazon and Standing Rock. ‘You could see how those crimes brutally disrupted the energy flows in the community. Therefore I want the message of indigenous people to be heard. They can truly feel the violence against nature’. Through this project, she hopes to find out what has happened throughout human history that brought us to this point of alienation and error at the point of no return.
By 2018 she would like to see people from all walks of life attend The Voice of Nature. ‘Everyone is more than welcome; indigenous people, lawyers, scientists, CEO’s, politicians, oil company directors, Trump’, she says laughing, ‘climate change deniers and even the effected polar bears and tigers.’ Truly all of us on this planet.