“by the struggling maple and the corpses of misplaced otters; ten miles from the ridge where no one can breathe…” (Alex Pullman, 2038)
I need your help. I want you (readers, friends and comrades) to take some pictures that I will use as source material for paintings. I can’t pay you (I can’t even pay myself). I would be, however, extremely grateful.
The series is called Red Mars (only tangentially related to the Kim Stanley Robinson novel). It is about a fictional middle-aged guy working in a low wage job; living off “Old 13” (a highway that runs in between my hometown of Carbondale and Murphysboro, Illinois). This character, Alex Pullman, starts to make some drawings based on Robinson’s novel. He then acquires a telescope from his late grandfather. Pullman comes to believe, or imagines he believes, that he can see (and hear the thoughts of) people living on a colonized and terraformed Mars (decades in the future). He begins to record their stories, write poems, sketch drawings and make paintings about their lives.
Their stories include the following (as part of a larger self-constructed narrative):
- A revolutionary crisis (of indeterminate outcome).
- An economic crisis (because of the overproduction of robots among other things) following rampant speculation.
- An ongoing environmental crisis (the terraforming didn’t quite work right; there is a constant fear that the planet will become unlivable, there are mass die-offs of animals imported from Earth, etc.)
- A refugee crisis (of people from Earth because it has also become unlivable).
To continue this series I need additional source imagery. To participate I would need you to take a picture of yourself in one or more of the following situations:
- Atomized, fragmented suffering; there are a chaotic set of identities, divided, oppressed, but highly abstracted from their origin: the writhing of the damned, etc.
- Working: people doing work, particularly the precarious jobs of contemporary capitalism (but imagined on a future Mars).
- Struggle, protest, revolution, civil war: you either know what this looks like or have spent years imagining it….
- Planetary existential death: drowning as the air becomes unbreathable…
I am crowd sourcing this element of the source imagery because of my belief in differentiated totality; similar to what Mikhail Bakhtin called the carnivalesque. The aesthetic of the working-class is, by definition, a chaotic jumble of unique group and individual subjectivities. It can’t be reduced (as in some Stalinist poster) to a muscular man wielding a hammer. Every protest is a meeting of a thousand worlds. They overlap and have a material basis for affinity, but are not identical or interchangeable. Neither are they separate, etc.
You can message (and send images) to me on facebook or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org [no photos of minors]. Your photos do not need to be complicated. There is no need for elaborate sets, props or lighting (unless you are so inclined). Images would be needed by February 20 (at the latest). Black and white images are preferred (but not mandatory).
In Struggle and Gratitude,
Adam Turl is an artist, writer and socialist currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. He is an editor at Red Wedge and an MFA candidate at the Sam Fox School of Art and Design at Washington University in St. Louis. He writes the "Evicted Art Blog" at Red Wedge, which is dedicated to exploring visual and studio art