From the Surface
At the beginning of The Three Ecologies, Félix Guattari writes: “The Earth is undergoing a period of intense techno-scientific transformations. If no remedy is found, the ecological disequilibrium this has generated will ultimately threaten the continuation of life on the planet’s surface.” In the age of the Anthropocene, the possibility of human self-inflicted extinction has become an ever more realistic and multi-dimensional threat, and the object of growing international concern and research. Imagining the future has become an existential necessity. At the end of The Obsolescence of Man, Volume II, Gu?nther Anders writes “(…) it is not harder to look towards the future than it is to look towards the past, and often it is less difficult. About 180 years ago, Friedrich Schlegel called historians “prophets turned towards the past”. Do we not have the right, today, to define those who engage in predictions as historians turned towards the future?” From the Surface imagines such a future as a form of exorcism.
Inner Grey evokes the story of people who are going through a rehabilitation program for drug addiction. The debate on how nations and the international community should perceive and manage the phenomenon of drugs seemed to have taken a historical and paradigmatic turn. In June 2011, the UN appointed Global Commission on Drug Policy published a report, which can be seen as the starting point for a radical change of attitude towards the issue of drug policies. The report stated that “the global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world (and that) fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.” Inner Grey focuses on one aspect of the issue of drugs, which is the need to perceive and approach the problem of addiction from a social, psychological and medical point of view rather than criminalizing, stigmatizing and marginalizing people suffering from it. The work attempts to shift the perspective from which the issue is usually approached and to construct a fluid point of view that evokes the experience of someone who tries to overcome this condition. At the same time, it is a meditation on contemporary alienation and ponders the way we are affected by, and process, the traces and marks that life leaves on our bodies and our minds.
Since I have read this well-known passage from Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project, it has been in the back of my mind and resonates with my work in general and this ongoing series in particular.
“It’s not that what is past casts its light on what is present, or what is present its light on the past; rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation. In other words, image is dialectics at a standstill. For while the relation of the present to the past is a purely temporal, continuous one, the relation of what-has-been to the now is dialectical: is not progression but image, suddenly emergent. – Only dialectical images are genuine images (that is, not archaic); and the place where one encounters them is language. -Awakening-.”
(The Arcades Project, 462; N2a, 3)
Cartouches is a playful ongoing series of Polaroids SX-70 that evokes an open-ended tale about modern life.