Becoming “terrans” is a continuous art project consisting in multiple workshops and performances. In it we want to engage in an embodied and socio-ecological reimagining of the world(s) in which we can live, inspiring ourselves in indigenous communities of all over the world as well as in the transition movements that are taking place all over Europe and beyond. Living in the era of the Anthropocene/Capitalocene, we are deeply in need of welcoming and exploring the unexpected, of freeing our imagination from any constrains in order to re-connect to reality, which modernity/capitalism has taken from us, as we are no longer free to decide on any social, political, economical, and environmental issues: everything is a priori decided by governments and corporations. We must bring the power of creation back to our lives! This regaining of connectedness with reality (with nature and with others as “terrans” or peoples of the earth) is a chance to both re-position and remake ourselves (or at least to experience what we can become) and to free our desire.
In this project, then, we want to image new futures which can be real if we try to fight for them! We want to connect our bodies to a community and to the land by painting our faces in the patterns reflecting both nature and sociality.
On the December 14, 2018 we had our first workshop and performance, joined by 20 participants. After a presentation which explained what are humans and terrans and what the workshop consists in, the participants were divided into 3 groups, each of which had to decide on six essential questions. Bellow you can find the descriptions of the alternative-to-modernity-and-real post-apocalyptic communities created by each group. Notice how egalitarian they are!
The community of the moss
We live in Aarhus, in the abandoned Institute for X, and we spread from there to the city sowing wherever we go! Our totem is the moss and our social organisation imitates it. Compared to a unifying modernity, our community forms a network, that is, it is a de-centered system. This makes us self-sufficient, easily adaptable and resilient. We split tasks according to the ability of each person. Everyone does what they do best and is an authority in this or that field, and each specialising group shares its knowledge with the rest, so that there is constant communication between different fields of expertise. In order to avoid the formation of concentrated power, we have learned never to submit to anyone in particular in political matters, but only to the community as a whole. We make political decision together. We are aware of the fact that competition is unavoidable; however, in contrast to individualistic modern social groups we do not praise individuals and we do not give physical rewards; our games are often solution-oriented (e.g. solving a water problem, finding better sources of food, etc.) and therefore do not have a determinate end, plus they also have strict rules which try to avoid the emotional charge of the games spilling over to the society (e.g. two groups competing with each other beyond the time of the game). If rules are broken, social exclusion of the transgresor(s) may follow.
Education plays a big role in our community. We teach our children not to get disappointed if they lose, give their best in whatever they do, and think of knowledge as an end-goal of any activity.
Our community had a long discussion on the justice system but did not come to any definite conclusion. Some of the questions that we reflected on were: should there be trained people in law which would mediate between judges (the people), victim(s) and the accused by providing legal knowledge? Should everyone be educated about on it? Should solutions be specific to each community? Do we need a constitution? Do we need laws as we know them in modernity, or moral laws or values instead?
We briefly discussed our reaction to war or any externally provoked conflict. We thought that maybe we should avoid fighting a hostile group if it comes to our territory. Instead, if the group is not too dangerous for our lives, we may “seduce” it to join our community or live friendly with us. But we felt that further thought on this was needed.
The community of the mountain-goat-seal
We live surrounded by the sea on the one side and by the mountains on the other. We are close to the sea as it is the origin of all life and it reminds us of the interconnectedness of all living beings; and we feel protected and secure by the mountains. We relate to the Other, that is, to anything that is beyond our community, in two complementary but distinct ways: by being open (like the sea) and cautious (something that mountains teach us, among other things).
We have two totems which are intimately connected to the place where we live: the seal, which represents intelligence, communicativeness, and playfulness; and the mountain goat, which in turn represents strength, independence, and audacity.
In terms of social organization, we are an egalitarian society. Political decision making is rotatory, with everyone participating in the political process at some point(s) in their lives—politics are therefore inclusive, and commitment to politics generalied. Before each rotation takes place the group that leaves the political post communicates their learned experience to the subsequent group, and in this way we assure that decisions rely on previously acquired knowledge and practice.
Only adults can participate in political decision making, though. Children must pass a rite of passage in order to become full members of our society, in which age division is rigorously observed, also in terms of labour division.
The latter is flexible, in the sense that people are not appointed to only do specific tasks to the exclusion of others; everyone does everything, with age division being once again the only limit in task assignment (e.g. old women do not go hunting, children do not go to war, etc.).
We are aware of the fact that inner competition is unavoidable, but in our community it is both limited and structured. Besides, our society does not allow the accumulation of individual wealth. And we have also a number of taboos like taking someone’s life or investing oneself with power to avoid all forms of social division.
Willing to defend our difference and identity, all of our community are educated on warfare and physically trained for it. There is a special separate group of warriors, who both protects and serves the community in tiring ways to prevent their prestige from turning into personal power.
We are community of nomads who live in Tjylland, Denmark. Our totem is the mole. We have learned how to make constructions underground to protect ourselves from the enemies. In terms of social organisation we have what is called “fluent-leadership”: leaders rotate. We avoid the formation of power by discouraging all forms of ego-centricity. We also have rituals which remind us of the values of our community, such as sharing. And we are self-sufficient.