The Container

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Excerpt from the video The Container.
A view of one of Arvid & Marie’s performances in-between the conversations.

In the end of February 2021, The Soft Protest Digest was invited to Urgency Intensive: IPACC 2021 (International Panel on Art and Climate Change), a symposium curated by Bruno Alves de Almeida & Inga Lāce, and hosted by the Jan van Eyck Academie and its residents. The event gathered emerging and established professionals from the fields of arts and beyond, which were divided in two groups: one from the Present, and another one enacting a generation from the Future. Artist duo Arvid & Marie created a set of performances with other residents to guide participants from Present to Future and back all along the 3 days event.

  • The Soft Protest Digest produced together with Arvid & Marie a video for the performance “Travel to the Future”. The video was named for the purpose of this page The Container and asks a lot of open questions about what we humans and our institutions contain. It uses the metaphor of the carrier bag, the sling, the shell, or the gourd as the first human tools, inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin, The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, 1986. Could it also be the last tool?
  • The collective also mediated a Break out room with participants intending to the event: the subject of it was “Unfolding more-than-human inclusive institutional ecologies”.

Look at the video The Container

Various types of containers were produced or gathered by Robin and Nickie (The Soft Protest Digest) and Arvid & Marie.
The music was created by Arvid and the containers were shot in Arvid & Marie’s studio on a green screen.
The vfx and editing were done by Robin.

Text from the video The Container

This text was written in collaboration with Arvid & Marie, and read by Marie.

Is the recipient empty
or is the food invisible?
As you stand in your present existence
Your primal container is the cell
now slaw of skin, scale or shell
In a perpetual transformation we move into a different time and become recipients
Again
What is contained?
As you stand in your present existence, water
and more precisely sea water
— the main ingredient in the recipe of life
As life emerged and thrived in the Earth’s oceans,
the chemical concentration of both the inside of cells and most fluids used by living beings
are surprisingly close to sea water
Your very own blood
Your blood osmotic pressure and nutrients concentration
is constantly regulated by organs like the kidneys to remain close to a sea water like concentration
Despite your evolution on land,
the very soup you contain within your membrane is your own synthetic ocean
As you project yourself in a different time, you wonder about containers, recipients, like institutions:
What do they contain, what do they separate, what would the primordial soup inside of them create?
Do you sometimes have metabolic anxiety?
What to consume, what to contain?
Refill and re-imagine the content of yourself
as if your mind was a 2 foot compacter that squeezes Beyond Meat burgers
to test for chewiness, juiciness and elasticity
Can you reach that peak meatiness? Can you reach your success?
Alright
You leave your current existence behind, what do you wish to replenish your new body with?
Chlorophyl colored concepts of post combustion world?
Self organising ecologies where land is given back to the landless?
Oceans to water bodies, foraged lunches in gardens of abundance?
A glass of clean water
Are you thinking of naming your offsprings Chevron, ExxonMobil, or Royal Dutch Shell?
Maybe you’re hoping for that techno-fixes that will capture carbon?
Capture your life as it is, in stasis without hope?
Remove you from diseases or bio-manufacture a new kidney, made of cellulosic algae
cellulosic algae kidney filtering GMOs, soy and Soylent, taking in carbon dioxyde direct,
excreting farmer unions and IPCC committees
Is that it? Will fictions save you from yourselves? What stories will you tell robots?
Is there a future in our nature?
In the end it all comes down to the recipient
What recipient is the IPACC, what does it contain?
What recipient will you chose to become?
Is the recipient empty or is the food invisible?
Right, you feel it now don’t you?
You’ve moved to a different time, a different state: focus on that feeling,
Feel that biological extension
Feel the fertile top soil and decompose yourself
decompose yourself
decompose yourself as we shall all become compost
Again

Break out rooms mediation

Performed conversations from the Future group.

Unfolding more-than-human inclusive institutional ecologies

How can art agents bring forward new possibilities for deep democratisation processes while producing institutions in which humans and more-than-humans share the seats at the table of negotiations.

  1. What is your favorite non-human entity?
  2. excerpt from Jane Bennet’s text[1] to open the conversations:

“In this chapter I have two goals. The first is easier than the second: I retell a couple of worm stories, first heard from Charles Darwin and Bruno Latour, to show how worms are ‹like› us. Here, as elsewhere in the book, I find in a non· or not-quite·human body evidence of the vitality of matter. Worms, or electricity, or various gadgets, or fats, or metals, or stem cells are actants, or what Darwin calls ‹small agencies›, that, when in the right confederation with other physical and physiological bodies, can make big things happen. The second goal is to confront the hard question of the political capacity of actants. Even if a convincing case is made for worms as active members of, say, the ecosystem of a rainforest, can worms be considered members of a public? What is the difference between an ecosystem and a political system? Are they analogs? Two names for the same system at different scales? What is the difference between an actant and a political actor? Is there a clear difference? Does an action count as political by virtue of its having taken place ‹in› a public? Are there nonhuman members of a public? What, in sum, are the implications of a (meta)physics of vibrant materiality for political theory?”

We have read this text to pursue the conversations we had with Framer Framed during an event called “Up Root democracy”, where this text and others were discussed.

Gallery of experimental containers produced

  1. Jane Bennet, Vibrant Matter, A Political Ecology of Things, Duke University Press, 2010.