I wrote a posting for the Artists and Climate Change website on March 15, 2022 called Rise Up, Dissent, and Disassemble, where I suggested that ‘the arts sector has the capacity to shift people’s hearts and minds and will be central to a transformation agenda’ about the ecological crisis.
I stand by this.
However, after engaging deeply with Dr. Vanessa Andreotti’s Hospicing Modernity and related publications, and after much reflection and some initial unlearning, I’ve come to the conclusion that any ‘transformation agenda’ led by artists needs to involve rising up, dissenting and disassembling modernity itself (extractive capitalism, colonization, disconnection with nature, systemic racism, etc).
In other words, all of us, together, need to transition out of modernity and ‘create the conditions for other possible worlds to emerge in the wake of what is dying’ as suggested in Preparing for the end of the world as we know it.
It’s that simple.
It’s actually not simple at all.
How does one de-modernize?
I’ve started by accepting and embracing de-modernization in my day-to-day life, with its various un-learnings, inter-relations and account-abilities. I am thankful for the guidance and insight from wise and courageous people on this journey from the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective, Kamea Chayne’s Green Dreamer, Alice Irene Whittaker’s Reseed, Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation, Britt Wray’s Gen Dread and many more…
It’s a work-in-progress as I try to ‘hold space for the good, the bad, the ugly and the messed up, within and around’as Dr. Andreotti suggests.
It involves a lot of listening and humility.
What about my statement that the arts have ‘the capacity to shift people’s hearts and minds and will be central to a transformation agenda’?
They do have this potential, of course, but too many, including myself, are anchored in modernity’s comforts and woven into colonial systems to see the forest for the trees.
While I appreciate and respect any and all efforts to create art that raises environmental awareness and that proposes solutions to the ecological crisis, the artistic activities that interest me the most now are those that directly address the root causes of our destructive behaviour and that contribute to creating the elusive ‘conditions for other possible worlds‘.
Anything else seems like fiddling while Rome burns.
When people ask me if I’m hopeful, I say that no, on the short term, but yes, on the long term.
That’s enough for now.