Happy Gregorian calendar New Year~ We're calling this 2021 and it's quite something so far...here in the desert though it's cold and sunny with windy days scattered here and there. A light rain came and went and we're dreaming of more. The days are getting ever so slightly longer with the sun setting closer to 5pm. At times I get the distinct sense of Spring pass over me and then drift back to Winter feelings. What will be the first flower to bloom?
IFIAAR teamed up with The Collaborative Center for Storm, Space and Seismic Research to work on their calendar for the year: BEAST! Together with CCSSSR artists Justin Chance and Hunter Foster, we gathered various historic dates relating to complicated actions, observations, and relationships marked by humans of our interspecies dynamics. While the calendars are sold old, keep an eye on their new website to see this year's dates.
Meanwhile, some new shirts are printed and available online. I'm recommending hand washing only to preserve the print. These ones are classic bug logo in dark green!
IFIAAR will be participating in the online version of Printed Matter's Art Book Fair! which begins February 24th. So far there won't be anything new lol but maybe I'll come up with something!
Otherwise, ideas and conversations are floating around for 2021 but I don't want to jinx an already overly complicated year...
It's been a while since I got back into a newsletter rant but here we go.
Working on the CCSSSR Calendar, I found myself quite saddened by the remarkable amount of devastating and tragic events- most often instigated by humans and resulting in animal suffering. I suppose so much of history is recorded tragedy, no? Certainly current news is filled with tragedies.
Are larger impressions made on people through pain than pleasure?
What are our positive histories with animals?
What is history to animals I wonder?
How can we re-open the 24 hour window of Western "dates" as many other cycles also define the year?
I was recently writing a short piece for a newspaper project, The New Now, started by Kim Hastreiter of Paper Magazine trying to define "now" in regard to animals/environment. In writing about the state of animals on this planet, I thought back to a lecture I listened to recently by Will Kimlycka (who I became familiar with through his collaborative book Zoopolis, a speculative proposal on political accommodation of animals) where he declares animals rights has failed. I cannot but feel his argument to be true! We have NOT seen greater consideration and rights expand for animals in any significant way. We have not even really seen much of an embrace on the left for this topic in general beyond it's overlap with global warming.
After reading a recent article on legal proposals forcing dog owners in Germany to exercise their dogs at least an hour a day, I thought "while I'm happy for dogs' well-being, what about the millions of cows, pigs, and chickens that are barely afforded the right to stand up, turn 360degrees and socialize with their families and friends?" And that's not including the rights of non-domesticates to not have their homes torn down, polluted, ransacked, or them and their families murdered. SAD!
How will history look upon this time and upon the few hundred years that obliterated countless species and non-human lives? Whose history will it be?
Often we turn to hypothetical contemplation of how an alien society might view various human activity and distinguish groups or ethics. This idea though is usually loaded with hierarchical assumptions: perhaps pigs being the most intelligent and therefore "sophisticated" or bonobos being the most cultured and moral lol and humans being a mess. Though one would want to correct this to maybe say "the humans that allowed(made) imaginary entities called corporations to have rights and powers over other humans are extreme aberrations of the species- why haven't they all been killed for greater survival and equality?" While one can play this game, I personally imagine aliens showing up in some incomprehensible form like a floating slime mold or glistening mushrooms with 100 legs who come to earth in a flesh bubble and make friends with forest mice then shape shift into a sedan car like a civic because they appear so ubiquitous and then grow into some kind of rhizomatic underground kingdom for beetles to live in and form a symbiosis with. OR they are like a form of toxoplasmosis or gut bacteria...in such cases they don't necessarily come to any kind of general ethical view in regard to humans.
More broadly I wonder how can we translate what's happening to animals outside of numbers, studies, reports, analyses, artifacts, 3D scans, into embodied ecologic histories? Looking towards oral traditions and societies that pass knowledge through kin, how can we preserve and describe some of the beauty of what is here now for future generations to truly understand (in case it's no longer around)? It feels necessary to pass on the magic of butterfly migrations, dolphin encounters, and bobcat poop. These are some questions entering this year that I have.
Anyway~ here's hoping for a day in which animal rights is winning and a human hand is there to mark it on whatever is considered a 'calendar' in the future (a message written in black walnut ink buried under a cluster of seasonal flowers in a rooftop biodynamic garden??????idk).