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“The destiny of Earthseed is to take root among the stars”BUTLER, Octavia E., The Parable of the Sower, Grand Central Publishing, Nueva York, 2019..
It is 2024 in Robledo, California, a young woman named Lauren Oya OlaminaLauren Oya Olamina is the main character in the novels The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler. lives with her father, stepmother and her siblings in a small community located a few miles from Los Angeles. The inhabitants of the town spend their lives surrounded by fences that protect them from the chaos and destruction that devastates the west coast of the United States. Seemingly protected from the criminals that prey on the region’s main highways, Olamina’s community must survive in the face of absolute disaster. Deprived of any possible future, Lauren constructs in her head a series of beliefs and concepts that will form what she calls Earthseed, a way of life based on ancient knowledge of the earth and sustained by community and empathy. One day, her town is attacked and all her loved ones are murdered. Along with two other survivors from Robledo, Lauren embarks on a long journey north with the intention of finding a safe place for her community to grow.
From the roots and plants, she uses to make medicine and cook, Lauren sets out to take her community to the stars, away from the planet that has been destroyed by its inhabitants. Like Lauren Olamina and her community, this month’s theme in A*Desk is an invitation to travel into the unknown and to imagine other possible futures for our lives on Earth, an exploration of the cosmos that starts from its roots.
We begin the journey in the icy Antarctica, accompanied by Himali Singh Soin with a text in which she presents her research on the planet’s southern-most continent and its queer potentialities. Known as the “white Mars,” Antarctica contains a landscape of nearly extraterrestrial conditions of life. Such characteristics make this continent a kind of sacred space, according to Singh, where the limits of the terrestrial succumb to the ineffable dimension of the cosmic.
The path shifts into a conversation with Rafal Zajko y Paco Chanivet, artists working within their traditions and their desire to build new bridges to other worlds and realities. Marked by his Catholic childhood in post-Soviet Poland, Zajko resurrects the legends of native folklore through the futuristic vision of science fiction. On the other hand, Chanivet, also influenced by Catholicism, in this case Easter in Sevilla, transports visitors to his installations in a kind of cosmic and mysterious reality.
As a roleplay, Juliette Lizotte introduces five characters located in different places and times. As her story progresses, the lives of these five characters intertwine throughout the millennia in a kind of cosmic web that reveals the possible connections of deep time.
Finally, we return to earth through the verses of Mawena Yehouessi. Her words propose a collective life experience informed by a shared colonial past. Like the bright, shimmering reflections of stars in a puddle, Yehouessi’s text projects a feeling in which the individual becomes a multitude, and in which things cannot be known but only spoken of and imagined.
(Front picture: Image of the location where the Perseverance rover landed, named “Octavia E. Butler Landing”. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)