In her documentary play The Tar Sands Songbook, musician, ethnomusicologist, Associate Professor at The New School’s College of Performing Arts, and 2017-18 GIDEST fellow Tanya Kalmanovitch uses strategies from the creative and performing arts, ethnography, and design to invite participants into an imaginative, critical process of unnerving the intimate relationship of oil and modernity. In 2016, Tanya returned to her birthplace of Fort McMurray, Alberta, to gather stories from dozens of people whose lives have been marked by living and working close to the Athabasca Oil Sands. Their stories, joined with her own, form the basis of a new documentary play and a body of musical works that make the causes and costs of energy impasse both visible and audible.

GIDEST is a Mellon-funded research institute based at The New School that incubates transdisciplinary research at the intersection of social theory, the arts, and design. As well as our faculty, artist-in-residence, and doctoral fellows’ programs, we run a series of biweekly public seminars that feature both prominent and emerging scholars and practitioners. Our seminars are devoted to discussion of pre-circulated materials. For more information, please visit

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