The Afterculture - click on image for gallery
In the West-African language of Akan, there is a word, Sankofa, which means “returning to the past in order to move forward.” We are leaving a full legacy of environmental catastrophes for future generations to inhabit.* We worry about how they will survive and respond to the crises. The Afterculture installation looks at a possible future where our children’s children’s children have evolved into a new kind of native peoples, emerging from destruction to find new, but ancient ways to “walk in a sacred manner” once again.
For the vast spread of our time on earth, traditional tribal life-patterns have successfully maintained ecological and spiritual balance. A worthy tribal culture of the future would not be a simple return to archaic practices but would be an evolutionary synthesis of old and new. Imagine a people grounded in Traditional life-patterns who gracefully incorporate the useful scientific knowledge and global spiritual understandings of our time. To be truly sustainable, they would by necessity have a radically simplified life style.
America has always been a land of destiny. Now, in this age of splintered communication, for the first time we are bereft of a unified, positive vision of where we are going. The Afterculture is an attempt to transmute the folklore of the future into something deep and rich and convincingly real. It is helping shape a new mythology along with such diverse sources as Thoreau and Conan and Dances with Wolves and Iron John. The Afterculture is not "against" the problems of our times, and it's not about "band-aid solutions." It's about opening up a whole new category of solutions, about finding another way of being: evolved, simpler, deeper, even more elegant.
*If you need convincing, listen to Elizabeth Kolbert, the Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Sixth Extinction says, "The climate operates on a time delay. When carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere, it takes decades—in a technical sense, millennia—for the earth to equilibrate. This summer’s fish kill was a product of warming that had become inevitable twenty or thirty years ago, and the warming that’s being locked in today won’t be fully felt until today’s toddlers reach middle age. In effect, we are living in the climate of the past, but already we’ve determined the climate’s future.”