In Search of the Lost Future

Extinction is not simply the biological process of species extinction. It is also the extinguishing of cultures and languages, either through force or assimilation; it is the extermination of peoples, either through labor or deliberate murder; it is the extinction of the earth in the depletion fossil fuels, rare earth minerals, even the chemical element helium; it is ocean acidification and eutrophication, deforestation and desertification, melting ice sheets and rising sea levels; the great Pacific garbage patch and nuclear waste entombment; McDonalds and Monsanto.
– Justin McBrien

The current age is one of accelerating and unprecedented human violence against the Earth and its inhabitants, a violence that has created grave disturbances in the life sustaining complexes affecting the condition of the planet for centuries to come. This moment in the history of the planet has been named the Anthropocene proclaiming man as a geological and World transforming agent. The dominant narrative of the Anthropocene however, ignores that at the centre of the destruction is a set of practices connected to a specific ideology and culture, not the entirety of mankind. World transforming activities like the endless extraction of natural resources, intensive crop agriculture and the increased burning of fossil fuel are constituent to the capitalist mode of production and its inherent growth and profit accumulation. Rather than the inadequate Anthropocene term we should consider more apt descriptions of the current moment like the Capitalocene, the Plantationocene or the white supremacy scene, which link ecological degradation to a specific economic system based on colonization, exploitation, enslavement and the commodification of nature and peoples through externalisation and abstraction. [1]

It is practices like these that have made our time one of loss, the loss of natural habitats, species and unique life cycles but the casualties will also include the loss of a certain type of human existence, namely the high-consumption, high-production, self-replicating human of late-capitalism.[2] We have to understand this moment, not only as an event in history, but also as a condition, a state of the planet conditioning our possibilities for existence and our understanding of being in the world.

Concurrently, this is also a time of climate change denial, regressive politics and a hegemonic economic system geared towards increasing the mutilation of the Earth and accelerating the annihilation of plants and animal species. It is not enough to measure, calculate and make prognoses for the wrecking of the planet, dominant narratives and their orders also need to be addressed and dismantled.

In Search of the Lost Future is a research project exploring the age of radical disruptions in the Earth’s systems through a series of exhibitions and events. The project unfolds as a critical investigation of the Anthropocene looking at the relationship between ecocide and capitalist structures, their inherent logics and histories of slow violence.

 

[1] Jason W. Moore ”Capitalism in the Web of Life”, 2015

[2] Claire Colebrook in conversation with Jessica Caroline: http://brooklynrail.org/2016/09/art_books/claire-colebrook-with-jessica-caroline