Constantly Growing Horizontal Subterranean Stalks: Geopoetics in the Era of
The Anthropocene is the new geological epoch of our planet. As hinted at by its ancient Greek
root of anthropos (άνθρωπος), it is the era of humans. It is them who today hold the position
of the mains powers forming the shape of the Earth. According to some authors, the beginning
of this era dates back to the end of the 18th century when Watt's invention of the steam engine
opened the gates of the industrial revolution and fossil fuels became the driving engine of
early capitalism. The aroma of burnt petroleum products has since then become out daily
companion. Other scientists place the turning point between the Anthropocene and the
preceding epoch of Holocene (which started at the close of the most recent glacial period) in
the 20th century. Sometimes they even cite a very concrete date - namely 16 July 1945, when
the first atomic bomb was detonated as part of tests carried out in New Mexico. The invisible,
thin layer of radioactive substances which enveloped the planet after the explosion, has been
forever imprinted in the future layers of the Earth's core, which will one day be studied by
geologists of the distant future in their deep excavations.
As it tends to happen with technology, new inventions generate new catastrophes. What
Chernobyl means for nuclear energy, climate changes means for technologies driven by fossil
fuels. The way we approach our future can therefore leave nothing to chance - we must plan,
think, recalculate and contextualize our existence within the planetary ecosystem. That is why
we need radical political and technological imagination which pulls down the ideas of what
the limits and possibilities of individual human bodies are. The theoretician Benjamin H.
Bratton even challenges the mankind to engage with prudence in the practice of committed
geodesign to avert the impending ecological disaster. In other words - we need more daring
geopoetics and less inane geoengineering. This calls for sensible interfaces set up for the
frequencies of interspecies diplomacy, which may include the use of the Sun as the supreme
source of energy for human and extra-human activities, from the level of individual cells to
our bodies to large collectives of heterogeneous agents.
The Anthropocene is a daunting epoch, anticipated and ushered in by the horrors of
modernization. It took many shapes and forms and we intentionally opt for a very
non-Western variant – namely the modernization that China went through under Mao Zedong.
By the gesture of including one of his poems in our exhibition we want to show that the brutal
modernity and the no less brutal Anthropocene share the strangely delusional sense for the
planet combined with a total negation of its autonomy – the Earth does not belong to us, yet
we pretend that it is in fact ours.
With our exhibition, we want to escape from this paradox by means of patient construction of
a new planetary perspective which does not differentiate between nature and society, the wild
and the city, or people and plants – on the contrary, our perspective draws its energy from the
radical idea of equality of all things; including people.
This is why we ask: How do we write the planet? That is to say: How do we, rather than
describe or fold its pages, truly become their co-writers?
Courtesy of the artist
Photo credit Peter Snadík, Denis Kozerawski