Monday, 11 April 2016

R&D - Lizard Exit Plan - Paul Chaney - A Response

The first exercise in the R&D phase - a visit to Paul Chaney's Exhibition - Lizard Exit Plan:Kestle Barton Sector at Kestle Barton, Manaccan, Cornwall.

the Encampment Supreme pavilion – a 775 sq.ft architectural fusion of post-consumer waste products and locally found natural elements, constructed by the artist and volunteers during public workshops in 2015
Chaney's ongoing works exploring what might follow an apocalyptic event seemed a perfect starting point for Research into A Sick Logic -

what might happen to us following an apocalyptic event? 
how would that event affect our relationship with the land?
what existing knowledge and skill base could we individually and collectively call on?

At the root of A Sick Logic is a sense that we, in the west, might have become somewhat disconnected from the land - practically, agriculturally, socially, ideologically and politically. We allow supermarkets to provide us with the fruits of the industrial farmer. We expect our shelters to be built for us and enter willingly into a housing sector which we're told is the foundation of our economic system. We have become the serviced-sector, cosetted from any real need for individual self-determination. Over decades of industrialisation, and capitalism-influenced technologisation, we have lost generations of built-up and passed down knowledge and in the process, most of us would be fairly useless in the event of a likely/unlikely/possible post-apocalypse.

In her essay on this exhibition, Sarah Thacker quotes Chaney - 
"self-sufficiency is not about food but being skilled-up, about being autonomous"
Thacker's critique of Lizard Exit Plan:Kestle Barton Sector is here

Field Machine

The work taps directly into how I'm thinking about the contemporary cultural response to a supposed Age of Fear and Uncertainty in which we currently reside and the conspiracy theoried, post-apocalypse, prepping that's so prevalent at the moment.

Chaney's approach is really interesting here - work around this subject matter can become mired in cod-ideology - there's a potential for twee-ness - and sometimes a hectoring radical ecologising! But coursing throughout is a dry, subtle, sardonic humour - whether it's the circling of an apple on a tree in one of Chaney's screenprints (look! you could/can eat this!) or a blueprint for a watch tower to keep evil out (and goodness in?). He calls up the separatism proffered by the Cornish Liberation Army, by setting out the 'need' for the setting up of a militia, immediately 'post-event'.  He seems to be simultaneously de-bunking the ultra-right wing preppers of, say Deep South America, and the off-grid loners who are attempting to excuse themselves from mass society - in favour of a simple suggestion that we all might individually take a little more interest and care in our surroundings, historically, ecologically and sociologically.

But he does it without losing any of the seriousness underpinning the whole work.

The message might be that we could stop taking so many things for granted, try to re-understand the land and our relationship with and within it, and up our individual and collective self-sufficiency game.

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