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It was a Roadside Picnic (Beyond Black Orientalism) – the World as a futuristic re-imagination, existing in Time and Zones that Spring from and Move in Breath (2021).
From the imaginary of Daad Futurism, coined by Afro-Somali artist Salma Noor joined by Megan Broadmeadow (WLS/UK), Brandon Covington Sam Sumana (USA), Nicholas Delap (WLS/UK), Ben Hall (ENG/SCO), Nayu Kim (KOR) and by Kinnari Saraiya (IND).
Supported by Indian breath specialist and neurologist Dr. Ash Ranpura (IND/UK) and framed and held in love and longing by Daad Futurism co-founders Amrita Dhallu (IND/UK) and Helen Starr (TT).
Lead Artist: Salma Noor
Breath Specialist: Dr. Ash Ranpura
Curator: Kinnari Saraiya
Lead Developer: Benjamin Hall
Developers: Harry Appleyard & Nick Delap
Soundscapes: Megan Broadmeadow, Brandon Covington Sam Sumana, Salma Noor, Kinnari Saraiya,
Producer: The Mechatronic Library & Salma Noor
Commissioner: The Mechatronic Library
Special Thanks to Sammie, Don & Benny
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As horizons shift and universes overlay each other, this multiplayer futuristic world, set in the Sahel-like desert, is in constant transformation, animating in and out it’s artist-parts in a stitch across time and zones in a non sequential creation - a Spivakian Worlding. Artists born in countries such as Somalia, South Korea, India and Wales imbue the virtual world with memories of the pre-humanist rituals, in a collective endeavour that maps the way towards a fluid posthumanism - beyond Black Orientalism, like the first compass rose which appeared in the mediaeval Catalan Atlas of 1375. For Colonisers, it is always a Roadside Picnic, a pitstop on the way to a modernist future. The 1972 Russian novel Roadside Picnic by Soviet-Russian brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, after which the artwork takes its name, explores the aftermath of such a colonial event. An extraterrestrial Visitation that took place in six separate Zones around Earth over two days. The most desired artefact was the Golden Sphere, which was rumoured to have the power to make any wish come true, but was located so deep inside the Zone and surrounded by deadly traps that only one person knew the route to reach it. On July 18 1324, Mansa Musa, the Islamic ruler of the west African empire of Mali, arrived in Cairo, trailing gold dust. A Visitation on pilgrimage to Mecca recorded in the Catalan Atlas, Mansa Musa is depicted holding a Golden Sphere in his hand. He could not have imagined how his unparalleled extravagance would affect the course of capitalistic human history over the next six centuries. This trip across the Sahel would set in motion a living map that ultimately stitched together the entire globe. Lying in the interstitial space between Orient / Oriens (Latin for sun rising) and Occident / Occidens (Latin for sun setting), the sun shines perpendicular at zero degree in this world, denying a shadow, a start and an end. This Third Space at zero-point is virtual, diasporic and transnational.
In the drama of Roadside Picnic’s dystopian world, one where humans are desperate for unattainable knowledge, the zone and it’s ‘artefacts’, the zone’s fence and it’s magical golden sphere, all exist as symbols of humanity’s need for control, power and greed. The repercussions of what we call the ‘postcolonial’ in the non-fictional world, the effects of crossing cultural boundaries when mutual understanding is absent. The humans celebrate their ‘discoveries’ and ‘treasures’ and the accumulation of material goods from the zone by treating the landscape and it’s components as something that is void of life, a voice, or agency, as if it existed only to be colonised. If we could, for a minute, place objects from the zone and labour from the colonies in two parallels, do we know the difference? colonization = "thingification” - Aimé Cesaire (1955)
The toxic Easter Egg in our world stings with violence and pain. For those who follow the path of the German Luther believe that “God can only be found in suffering and the cross”.__________ In this instance pain politics are entangled with the politics of misogynoir. Misogynoir is that special violence directed at black and bronze skinned women. ______It finds its highest expression in the art of Marcel Duchamp, considered to be one of the most important and influential Western artists of the 20th century. So it comes as no surprise that his cruel legacy hides itself like a boil- ed Easter Egg in our beautiful de-colonial world. In his own world-building masterwork Étant donnés (1946–1966), Duchamp hides his own spiteful secret in his cast of the body of his Brazilian lover, the sculptress Maria Martins.__________ She lies naked and defiled with her mutilated genitals exposed in a field surrounded by the lush green of a utopian European landscape - like a trophy for a serial killer and rapist. Cast, forever and and cast away after refusing to be him, Duchamp writes doomed love letters to Maria:_______ Let us not try to understand other people, for we will only be disappointed—there is nothing to understand, just the next breath to catch, and if it is taken away from us it is best not to know that it has been taken away from us. How I would like to breathe with you—— Love Oct. 12  ______ Before Duchamp’s erasure, Maria Martins was known internationally as the Sculptor of the Tropics and the great sculptor of Surrealism. When she met Andre Breton, the principal theorist of surrealism, he connected Maria’s artistic practice of exploring the oral histories of the Amazon River with his own desire to create new myths to base a future society on. Indeed he writes this as a eulogy in her catalogue for her 1947 solo show at the in New York._____ Like the foot bells of our Kinnari Water Goblin, Maria Martin’s brown enchantress rises from a watery, ecotonal landscape. Simulated droplets course down the towering, bronze figure of Yara (c1940). While the sculpture’s base takes the form of a large lotus plant native to tropical South America, fishlike forms play at her feet. Yara’s hands are clasped in supplication and her eyes are closed. She appears to be listening, as if for sounds from the future hence. Will the siren-rhythm of the Kinnari’s Ghungroo bells drown the sounds of Easter’s pus filled egg? Or are we doomed to a future full of Lutherian pain and misogynoir?
The Compass Rose, sometimes called a Wind rose or Rose of the Winds was first used on the Catalan Atlas of 1375 to show the cardinal directions. To help the view orient to different perspectives. Such as a fluid futurism, where the wind felt by all living and non-living beings is shared in breath of triads. In, Pause, Out. And thus, we break the binary of the word.
Kinnari's pavilion envisions the boundaries of our own microcosm of existence while exploring the possibilities of the undiscovered in the macrocosm. It is a reflection, or embodiment, of the cosmos. It represents the Axis Mundi – World Axis – that connects the physical and transcendental realms of the universe._______ Its cosmic movement reminds us that we are not necessarily dealing with single, isolated structures, but a dynamic environment, where different spaces and types of space (natural, social, mythic) interweave. They serve to separate and allow access between different worlds: the human, visible, and mundane realm, on the one hand, and the divine, hidden, imagined, on the other.________ This microcosm is surrounded by free standing pillars in directions marking the rising and setting sun to the east and west, marking north and south and the regents of the twenty-eight Nakshatras, or the lunar mansions of the course of the moon. Each pillar records “Although the world narrowed, stifled, grinded down and imprisoned Abdelhafid Khatib, he will forever remain alive for his voice in defining what psychogeography should be.” in fifteen scripts, fifteen worldviews.________ Abdelhafid Khatib was an Algerian psychogeographer who was constantly harassed and imprisoned for being Arab in Paris, he wrote “While race and nationality are cultural – political – constructs, our psychogeographical experiments have shown that they materially condition our experience of power and the city, the zones of our residence, our work, our play, our movements, even our ability to fully carry out intellectual inquiry. In other words, race and nationality condition each situation we encounter or create, and our human journey through them.”
Set inside two ancient dome shaped tombs, the GIFs of Salma Noor use time as a material for her artistic expression. The Gif is a lo-fi, architectural tool used to build narratives by layering 2D images across time.________ Salma’s visual art tempo, her light captured time sense, is a play of black and light which brings rhythm to the visual plane. For rhythm, a binary form of twos is a dance between what is present and what is absent. And within her time-shifting animations Noor gives blackness its proper due_____. From antiquity to now, poetic Somali pastoral herders and seafarers have thrived in the Martian landscapes and the salty waters of East Africa’s Arabian Straits. In these barren, breath-taking worlds, water and sand become sacred, transportive material - with which to binds worlds._________ In order to respect non—human entities such as land, climate, trees and data, we must physically locate our tools. Tools have many components: the virtual (how to use), which is light on the environment and hardware which is not. These physical and virtual components must be integrated in order to be understood as ecological objects. A sand storm should not be understood without its particles, a library without the lives of trees. The physicality of informational objects, the metals and minerals, comes from the earth itself . And thus data, myths and metaphors collected from humans and nonhumans must be seen as part of a single history. No ecological being can be left out of protocols of respect. This is DAAD Futurism.
For her work in the world Megan wanted to use a piece of ancient text to explore the hypnotic effects and spatial/ imaginative transformations achieved when hearing poetry and unfamiliar language._________The sonic work entitled Annwfn Soundscape reinterprets Cad Godde (The Battle Of Goddeu), a poem is attributed to Taliesin, who flourished around the late 6th century. Translated from Old Welsh (Hen Gymraeg) the poem centers on the magician Gwydion's use of a staff of enchantment to transform native trees such as Alder, Rowan and Willow into fighting men. Although Cad Goddeu contains implications of powers attributed to different trees, the larger meaning of the poem remains unexplicated. Megan overlays the Welsh and English and interpolates both with the insistent rasping buzz of a Wasp_________. This is a poem within which a bodiless narrator describes their transformation into many objects, one after another, to reveal fragments of a time, place and eradication of a tribe. The manner of the text presented in this way becomes transformative as we too feel swept up into this shapeshifting ,essence of being - more than human_____ The Wasp spirit has tremendous power, symbolism, and meaning around the world. In the Old Testament as an example Wasp, in giant form, is mentioned several times, representing God’s efforts to keep foes out of Canaan. West Africans look to Wasp as representing evolution and our ability to take the reins of control in our lives. And in European talk of how Wasp plays a role in pollination; they become a potent symbol of interspecies fertility. In this seemingly barren desert/Daad landscape, the wasp therefore oscillates between protector and threat. _________The land featured as the surround in this world is that of Parys Mountain, a copper mine in Wales, mined for approximately 4000 years and only finally being abandoned around 1890. The land is highly contaminated. It is essentially a Welsh desert, with only a handful of plants and bacteria able to survive.
Nick Delap interprets the Bryn Celli Ddu Cairn of Wales as a place between worlds where men never die. Since prehistory, Cairns have been used as burial monuments and for ceremonial purposes, often relating to astronomy. _________ And Cerridwen fills the Delap’s Carin at night bathing it with soft silver and golden motes. At its centre is a gift to Gods and Men. An exquisite Bronze broach, hung with blue stones like the fabled aquamarines from Santa Maria de Itabira mine in Brazil.____________ It floats above the floor in a potlatch offering._________ In its virtuality it refuses to the material values of the heroic societies of the Iron age. And yet, it is still tethered to the values of extractive capital, just in a new and different way. Minted and sold as an NFT, the spoils will ultimately go to the Harari’s Gods of Silicon Valley and to those who play in the virtual space of the inbetween.__________ Like the Celts - the Painted Ones of the bygone past.__________ Nick Delap’s works stem from the lost histories of his Celtic people, from his cultural life in Manchester City and on the Axe Edge Moors. He uncovers and re-presents the traces his ancestors left for him to find in sacred stones and giant Yew groves. This trace, this shadow path stretches across the once common lands of old Brigantia. __________ Before Anglo-Saxon invasion, before Christian colonisation, before enclosure took hold. Delap’s critically fabulated worlds create spaces of poiesis from which a post-human future can emerge.
For this world Ben has placed his vision of the Glastonbury Tor covered in thistles and a red laden fruit tree. Two pagan warriors face each other on this ancient hill against the backdrop of the Church of St Michael - which keeps making and unmaking itself. This work alludes to the story of St Joseph of Arimathea who assumed the responsibility for the burial of Christ and who, legend has it, visited the UK landing in Glastonbury by boat. It is said he brought the Holy Chalice , also known as the Holy Grail with him for safe keeping. The Synoptic Gospels refer to Jesus sharing the Chalice with his Apostles at the Last Supper, saying it was the covenant in his blood.__________ Flowing from the ground between the Tor and Chalice Hill, in Glastonbury, Somerset is an ancient spring. This is the Chalice Well, sometimes called ‘The Blood Well’.________ The etymology of ‘money’ points towards a connection with sacrifice and cultural rites. Money was originally the medium of exchange used for buying sacrificial animals. Those with a lot of money acquired a divine power to kill: ‘Looked at from the perspective of its roots in sacrificial cults, money is, as it were, frozen sacrificial blood. To throw money around, to let it flow and watch it flow, produces an effect similar to the flow of blood in fights or on sacrificial altars.’__________ The hoarded money gives its owner the status of a predator.__________ Capital’s logic of accumulation corresponds exactly to the armchair economy of violence. Capital behaves like a modern version of mana. Mana is the name of that powerful, mysterious substance that one acquires through the act of killing. One accumulates it in order to create a feeling of power and invulnerability: The warrior was thought to embody the mana of all those whom he had killed…. The mana of the warrior’s spear was likewise increased with each death he inflicted…..
Nuka Nayu seeks to temporarily invoke a state of becoming rather than being__________ He takes on themes of the Buddhist funeral tradition in South Korea in which people hold a funeral every 7 days for 7 weeks.__________ The work interrogates that change can be evoked by decoding reality, history, and past; tracing clues that others have left, while leaving marks to be observed, and slipping in and out of the dark life that language and its inscriptions on matter extrude into the fiction of reality.__________ By interpreting an adaptive method of the funeral tradition, the work holds a decoded ceremony with experiences of each stage of the 49 days between life and afterlife. The fictitious space the work navigates within is a pending event on the digital/non-human timeline, which interrogates the ontology of a ghost who is both yet to live and die.
Dear Helen,___________________ Attached you shall find a set of two excerpts from a project entitled Rhapsodie for Breath and Synthesized Organ composed from a nearly 200-piece sound library recorded in response to our conversation related to DAAD futurism and a subsequent reading of the well known text “Ceremonies of Possession in Europe’s Conquest of the New World (1492-1640)” ____________ I conducted and recorded between midnight and 1am of Feb 24 2021 EST. These excerpts are fit to be played on continuous loop and, for me, serve as an appropriate score to my reception of Salma’s wonderful digital image. I thank you, Salma, and Amrita for the space and opportunity to both engage and respond to this conversation._______________________ You shall have ample room with my work here to reference not only the Louisiana Cancer Alley, but as well as the contents of this link to the Moruroa Files you’ve included.______ B Brandon Covington Sam-Sumana