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knowbotiq: thulhu thu thu, before the sun harms you

12 October 2019 to 2 February 2020

thulhu thu thu, before the sun harms you considers the necropolitical landscape of the Flow Country [1], an ostensibly natural territory composed from a subterranean molecular system which circulates decay and energy across geological epochs. The bog lands are unearthly territories to imagine and speculate on future extinction and the limits of the planet, where the ghosts of the white Anthropocene  – land grabs, dispossession, forced migration, corporate extraction, environmental poisoning – are preserved in deep time and rendered inhuman materialities of the earth.

The bogs register and cannibalise the sedate and rapid transformations of local and planetary systems – the Clearances[2], environmental violence, scars of peat cuttings, abuse of corpses, reverberations of racialised and colonial violence and precisely dated traces of nuclear particles. volcanic ash and acid rain – while the metabolic processes of the sphagnum mosses[3] continually process parallel forms of induced living and dying to recite ancient geohistorical matter and disturb time.

The Highland landscape is a critical zone of capitalist modernism which has memorialised the ‘developmental’ logic of neocolonialism and continues its language of growth, extraction, exploitation and profit accumulation; a space-port is being built to launch satellites from North Sutherland; oversized switched-off wind farms generate lucrative returns for landowners; the powerful economic body of the white Scottish ancestry industry encourages a cleansing of Scotland’s imperial history and mandatory policies sanction forced migration from socially disadvantaged urban areas. thulu thu thu, before the sun harms you confronts the inadequacy and injustices of the Anthropocene[4] model, which collapses the whole of humanity’s intervention in the environment into an indivisible monolith, dislocating it from the asymmetric violence and impact of racialised capitalism.

..Whiteness became established as a right to geography, to take place, to traverse the globe and to extract from cultural, corporeal, and material registers, – while other bodies had to absorb the excess of that surplus as toxicity, pollution, and intensification of storms. Again, and again..

(A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None, Kathryn Yusoff)

thulhu thu thu, before the sun harms you is stage one of a long-term collaborative project, which overtime will build a collective network of participants and organisations from a diversity of disciplines, practices and geographies. 

During stage one, knowbotiq will produce a formless, anonymised and undefined object out of collectively braided raffia fibres in collaboration with Ira Wilhelm and Pablo Alarcón. Through a series of community workshops[5] with friends, guests, sentients of the bogs, the undefined will be contaminated by multiplying knowledges and practices. It will be moved anonymised and collective, in collaboration with performer Ashanti Harris through local zones: the surveillance technology stations at the restoration zone of the carbon sink bogs; the petropolitical and military space port site; the denuclearisation zone and the renewable energy production zone of the wind farm. The undefined will dis/assemble bodies and traces of the soil; it will invent intimacies and gestures of care towards the subterranean and transgress translocal relations. The grammar of the zones will be transcribed through anonymised coordinated action, crystallising their form into the material and movement.

The collective coordinated and opaque movements will be triggered and led by various incantations, a fractured series of sounds, songs, readings and technocosmologies which respond to the politics of the Anthropocene. Sound artist Lamin Fofana, artist and researcher Ayesha Hameed, political activist and publisher Eric Huntley, artist and writer Pedro Neves Marques in collaboration with musician Raw Forest, research collective and activists Casa Wontanara, dj Odete, performance artist Romy Rüegger; `some kind of artist working on some kind of nature` Tejal Shah; poet and performer Belinda Zhawi, and others were commissioned to produce contributions and share their explorations and poetic affectations on geographies of the Anthropocene.

thulhu thu thu, before the sun harms you disturbs the white jurisdiction of the planet and will search for and cohabit different imaginaries to experience the political, biophysical, socio-cultural and economic dimensions of nature.


[1] A vast expanse of peatland blanket bog which is the largest in Europe and intensively protected as an important carbon sink in the fight against climate change. Large parts of the landscape are currently being “re- and denaturalized”, molecularly “repaired”, “restored” and “conserved”.

[2] During the C18th and C19th Highland Clearances, feudal landlords, enriched from their profits from colonial plantations, forced crofters off their land to move to newly built fishing villages or emigrate to the colonies in Guyana, Jamaica, India and Canada. Large moorland areas were drained, afforested and converted into sheep grazing and deer stalking territories.

[3] Sphagnum mosses carpet the bogs and play a vital role in forming the peat. They conserve water and nutrients and over thousands of years, layers of dead sphagnum build up to form peat.

[4] The Anthropocene is the current geological age, a period in which human activity has had the biggest impact on the environment and climate.

[5] ecologists, djs, historians, nuclear-physicists,  dancers and anthropologists


Acknowledgements

The research and development of this project has been generously supported by historian David Alston; Roxane Andersen and Dave Braidwood, Environmental Research Institute, nuclear engineer John Whitfield and The Flows to the Future team.

INCANTATIONS

Bios

knowbotiq (Yvonne Wilhelm, Christian Huebler) experiment with forms and medialities of knowledge, political representations, and epistemic disobedience. In various installations, projects on art, public and performative settings, knowbotiq explore molecular, psychotrope and derivative aesthetics. knowbotiq has participated in the Venice Biennale, Moscow Biennale, Seoul Biennale, Hongkong Shenzen Biennale, Biennale Rotterdam, and exhibited in New Museum New York, Witte de With Rotterdam, MOCA Taipeh, Kunsthalle St. Gallen, Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Skuc Gallery Ljubljana, NAMOC Beijing, Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Museum of Contemporary Art Helsinki, Hamburger Kunstverein, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter Oslo, Museum Ludwig Köln and has a professorship at the MFA program, University of the Arts Zurich.

Lamin Fofana is an electronic producer, DJ and artist. His instrumental electronic music contrasts the reality of our world with what’s beyond and explores questions of movement, migration, alienation, and belonging. He runs the Sci-Fi & Fantasy label which links techno back to the real world, to bridge aesthetics with socio-economics, with ocean currents, with stale bread and dirty water.

Raw Forest is one of Margarida Magalhães’ alter-egos that was born around 2010 in cybernetic space. Lately, her work has been manifesting itself mostly through sound, creating landscapes and environments by the means of immersive electronic music. Her landscapes arise from the ruins of past digital utopias and her music has been more and more influenced by this environment of disillusion and collapse, shaped by the present dystopian scenery.

Mareia Foundation, a women collective of artists/humanists who work with participatory research-action with a focus on race, gender, environmental and sonic-embodiment. It is art as a vehicle of social transformation, for a revitalisation of ancestral practices/knowledges through ethnoeducative and emancipatory methodologies,  and of holistic healing that empowers the resilience and dignity of the Colombian Pacific.

Ayesha Hameed’s moving image, performance and written work explore contemporary borders and migration, critical race theory, Walter Benjamin and visual cultures of the Black Atlantic.  Her projects Black Atlantis and A Rough History (of the destruction of fingerprints) have been performed and exhibited internationally.  She is the co-editor of Futures and Fictions (Repeater 2017), and is currently the Programme Leader for the MA in Contemporary Art Theory in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths University of London. Ayesha is collaborating with Elvin Brandhi, an improvising lyricist, producer and sound artist from Bridgend Wales, making auto-tune blast beats from field recordings, tapes, instruments and voice. Live shows are unyielding bursts of erupting animation where her caustic stream of consciousness cavorts with restless, glitched out heaviness. Other main projects include Yeah You, INSIN in collaboration with Bashar Suileman.

Ashanti Harris is a visual artist, teacher and researcher, working with dance, performance and installation. Ashanti’s work focuses on themes of mobilities – the movement of people, ideas and things as well as the broader social implications of these movements, specifically in relation to the diaspora of West Africa and The Caribbean.

Eric Huntley, activist, publisher and author, was born in 1929 in British Guiana and emigrated to Britain in the late 1950s. Together with his wife, Jessica, the Huntleys not only participated in, but also led many significant grassroots campaigns, including becoming founder members of the Caribbean Education and Community Workers Association, the Black Parents Movement, the organisers of the 1981 Black People’s Day of Action march and the Supplementary School Movement, created to supplement the shortcomings of an education system that was failing Black children. Alongside New Beacon Books (founded in 1966) and Allison & Busby (founded in 1967), Eric and Jessica founded Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications (BLP), one of the first Black-owned independent publishing companies in the UK, founded as a direct response to the banning from Jamaica of historian and scholar Walter Rodney.

Pedro Neves Marques is a visual artist, filmmaker, and writer. Born in Lisbon, Portugal, he lives in New York since 2012. Often times placed in Brazil, his work ranges from fiction, in the form of narrative films and short stories, to theoretical writings between art, cinema, and anthropology. Heavily influenced by cosmopolitics and feminist historians of science, his stories highlight the clash between disputing images of nature, technology, and gender. In all of them, science fiction is key to thinking both past histories of colonization and the possibility of non-Western futures.

Odete is a performer, writer, visual artist and DJ who uses her own life—particularly her experience as a trans woman—as material for her practice. Her DJ sets draw out the relationships between different points in queer music history using vogue claps, punk screams and diva vocals,  pop, politics and erratically pounding beats.

Romy Rüegger develops performances, audio works and writings that consider how we move and communicate in social space, and the institutions and structures that control and restrict these actions. Her work is often site-specific and made in collaboration with other artists, creating sites of shared listening, encounter and unlearning that counter accepted narratives and value systems.

Tejal Shah is some kind of an artist working on some kind of nature. She hovers at the intersections of queer-ecologies, feminism and the non-dual middle way philosophy as she continues to explore unbecoming. Her work is an invitation to move away from violence and towards love and cooperation.

Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean born writer & educator currently based in London. Her work explores Afro-diasporic research & narratives; the impact of colonialism across Africa; the immigrant experience in Britain and how art & education can be used as intersectional tools. She was the 2016/17 Institute of Contemporary Arts Associate Poet & is co-founder of, literary arts platform, BORN::FREE. Belinda is the author of Small Inheritances (ignitionpress, 2018).

 

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