Green Wedding, Festival Glen
Contributed by Elizabeth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle
In Conversation With Elizabeth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle
The wedding we had here in the Festival Glen was pretty special. Everyone from UCSC Chancellor Blumenthal to feminist performance artist Linda Montano, artist and critic Natalie Loveless and Fluxus artist Geoffrey Hendricks was there. Radical Chicano artist and performance activist Guillermo Gomez Pena was our high Aztec priest. The Harrisons, the pioneering eco-artists, did the homily.
Annie: One hundred and fifty people helped create the wedding and four hundred people came. It was a huge labor of love.
This was the third wedding Beth and I had done. The weddings are part of a larger project that Beth and I were collaborating on. Separately, Beth and I both have a history of artworks about sex and gender. After we met and fell in love, we decided to work about love.
Beth: We thought love was radically traditional.
Annie: With so much Hallmark love in the world, we decided we needed to give love a little edge. We were exploring love ourselves after having wild pasts.
Around this same time, Gavin Newsome, then major of San Francisco, announced that same sex marriage could happen. Annie and I had an appointment to get married. And, the day before our appointment, the Supreme Court ruled the weddings unconstitutional. We were a little hot and bothered by that.
So, both as part of our exploration about love and as a response to the Supreme Court decision, we decided to do a wedding every year for seven years. The seven-year structure was in response to a call put out by Linda Montano for artists to create work on what she calls “the seven colors of the glands,” which you can read more about.
The first three weddings were very human centric. We got bored with this, though.
We had fallen in love with nature when we moved into the redwood trees in Boulder Creek.
And, in the process of this falling in love, we realized that humans already have all the rights in the world that they need. We are the most successful species in the world and we are ruining the world as a result. The world would probably be better off without us. So, we were less interested in getting more rights for humans (and marriage equality was slowly being resolved by the government anyway) and more interested in thinking about the rights of the environment. We thought, why don’t we give the environment the rights and privileges of marriage?
In 2008 we decided to marry the Earth. We made vows to love, honor and cherish the Earth. Everyone at the wedding took those vows along with us and got a ring, if they wanted one. We took all the traditions of wedding that we liked, and we queered them up. Everything was collaboratively produced– we could never have pulled this off alone. People sewed our costumes which were inspired by a peacock named ‘Albert’ who lives in our neighborhood; someone put moss on my shoes; students painted these beautiful stage sets, there was a beautiful canopy. When I walked into the Glen, I cried.
This was the first wedding where we married the Earth. We now have married the Earth 19 times. We’ve married the soil; a lake in Finland; one hundred and fifty people married the sky with us; we’ve married rocks . . .
We have been invited all over the world to do this project so we’ve married the Earth in 9 countries.
Now, this has become a movement. We came out as eco-sexuals, and we started the E.A.R.T.H. Lab: the Environmental Art Research, Theory and Happenings Lab. It is a hotbed of environmental activist art. We are trying to make environmental activism more fun, sexy and diverse and make a place where people who do not fit into the NGO models of activism can experiment and have fun caring for the earth. This is a heavy and painful time for nature. But, we want to imagine how to make the earth a joyful place.
We are trying to bring some hope to the movement. We are taking on very serious issues, for instance, we just made a film about mountaintop removal, and we attempt to bring humor and hope to these issues. And, we are queering and sexing up the activist movements around these issues, changing the metaphor of earth as mother to earth as lover.