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Suspension for Belief: Harnessing Aereal Circus Arts for Risk Communication

December 1, 202215:30Florianopolis

Suspension for Belief: Harnessing Aereal Circus Arts for Risk Communication

Storytelling traditionally calls on audiences to suspend disbelief: temporarily ignore the unreality of fiction to be entertained or to experience catharsis. By contrast, climate and disaster resilience requires stakeholders to permanently believe speculative future realities and prepare for them, before the allegedly likely extreme event. How, then, can storytelling facilitate understanding of climate and disaster risk? Can entertainment and catharsis actually cultivate lasting audience perceptions of deep long-term risks beyond the limits of the storytelling medium?
Few acts are as visibly risky as aerial acrobatics. Each performance involves multiple risks, some potentially life-threatening for the artist. The palpability of such risks is what arguably makes circus arts so enthralling to the general public, young and old, around the world. Yet who would go to a show if they seriously expected a performer’s life to be at threat? Circus artists straddle fine lines in mitigating without eliminating risk and using the risk itself as a medium for community engagement and inspiration.
This session will feature a taste of acrobatic performances as well as audience interaction and expert discussion to challenge how UR participants perceive, understand, and address risk. How are risks identified and mitigated in circus arts and what lessons might they offer for disaster and climate risk management? How can experts and practitioners engage audiences to communicate climate and disaster risks in a way that feels palpable while also maintaining safety?
Harnessing the power of aerial acrobatics, this session will invite participants to engage in new ways to conceive and deliver risk communication. Through a combination of formal presentations, designed interaction and serious fun, we will dive into the complex interactions between thrill, narrative, and analytical rigor. Importantly, we will co-create tangible and actionable ideas to support the UR community.


Pablo Suarez

Artist in Residence / National University of Singapore – Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk

Nickolle de Abreu

Artistic Director / Circocan

Tilly Alcayna

Senior Technical Advisor for Health and Climate / Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

Alan (Alby) Lee

Senior Energy and Climate Change Specialist / World Bank

Pedro Mello e Cruz

Director / Circocan

Event Info

  • Florianopolis

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