We are not precisely who we thought we were. We are composite creatures, and our ancestry seems to arise from a dark zone of the living world...My dream is not of human rights and inclusion into an exhausted colonial order. Humans are post-human. That is, we are not individuals, alone, independent or static; humans are aspects of intra-connecting systems and contexts. Assemblages.*
*Dr. Bayo Akomolafe, When You Meet the Monster, Anoint Its Feet
The Futureless Future…
A long time ago, an Acoma elder shared with me that one day the planet will not look the same as we know it. He pointed to the window and said, “All of this, all that you see in this physical world, won’t be here anymore, and we will see this happen in our lifetime.” Dr. Cash Ahenakaw (Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation) shared a similar expression just last night during a presentation centered on Indigenous Cosmologies. As time and events have drastically transitioned during the past several months, the reflections on this installation has deepened.
The original projections for this installation was to, in some way, project a 200-year cultural future of Maine. The first glimmerings of this vision began as a more concrete visualization, projecting the future onto mundane cultural objects that function in the 21st century, imagining how those objects might function in a 23rd century. Though this vision did consider the impact of Earth changes, what it didn’t acknowledge were other possibilities of a more discursive future, the impact on this land from human-discursiveness, like the continuation of the crusade of Manifest Destiny on this land [which is congruent to future civil war(s)]. Though it can be fruitful to create a silver lining future in art, the denial of the impact of current human-malevolent realities would undermine a more honest envisioning of a 200-year projection of Maine.
Right now, human beings are confronted with many crises, a serious one being a climate crisis, which Trinidadian-Canadian writer Simone Dalton refers to as a crisis of culture. The crisis of this culture has culminated into a reckoning that permeates with suffering on levels that exceed climate. This crisis of culture has culminated into a peak of catastrophes on many levels, placing a strain on land and spirit. As the crises human beings face accelerate, each day becomes not a succession of days, or weeks or months, but each day is a new arising of facing catastrophe, not so much as unexpected… moreso as unknown in how catastrophe will manifest, be it a virus, a tsunami, or yet another civil war. Carrianne Leung suggests human beings begin to look at catastrophe as relationship, not denial of it, nor being defeated by it. A co-existence with realities. A story that is working itself out. The succession of going about our days as a culmination of semesters, vacations, retirements, training, building, this moving towards expectation…that era has now passed as we move into what Carrianne names the futureless future.
The futureless future is nothing new. It is quite dharmic. It lives in the present moment, which in less than a nanosecond, becomes something else, that was once unknown. Groundlessness…
Elder Cash Ahenakaw teaches that the unconscious is located in the land. The soul is connected to earth. The Earth is our body. The cosmos is the land, just as the universe is a part of our body.
The artists in collaboration with this installation have origins outside of “Maine”, even those that have Native blood tied to this land…we have families whose ancestors originated across the ocean. As one from “away”, I have taken on the task to envision a 200-year future, that is, in this moment, futureless. It is a vision that can only be yesterday and tomorrow, because the tools that I have to create, originate from all that culminated yesterday (yesterday also being ancestral). And what is yesterday will infuse into a tomorrow I am not seeing but being. I also dare to envision creating an installation-portal as a descendant of this future of 2221…a time traveller. The question I ask, can I travel ahead 200 years to create an imprint of a scarred and healed land, that is now called Maine??
As elder Cash put it, it is now time to replace the Anthropocenic-individualized universe, with a spiritual universe, a re-centering.