Desperate times call for desperate, artful measures. Our relationship with time gets distorted when we are desperate. A key response to the pandemic has been the coining of ‘2050’ as a timeline and deadline, through which I discuss diverse strands including the leadership of artists and art practice to catalyse and co-create future-facing collective visions. In such dark times of COVID-19, we need to remember that there is a future. We cannot lose hope, which is a ‘gift’, a ‘power’ that we must hold on to, as we visualise our own roles in shaping this future (Solnit 2017). Get in touch to realise my visions with me.
What’s wrong with here/now:
The perma-crisis means that we are in reactive not proactive mode. We fail to see beyond the immediate woes, and forget the long range vision of our persistent hunter ancestors, who ran 6, 7 hours covering distances equivalent of full marathons to track and tire animals down, guided by nothing but sheer stubbornness, self-belief, and determination (Heinrich 2002). We’re asking politicians, epidemiologists, economists, behavioural scientists and so on about systemic change, but forget that artists, writers and filmmakers have always helped us project far ahead, imagining new systems, be they utopian, dystopian or multitudes of shades of greys in between — Orwell’s 1982, Kubrick’s 2001, Marker’s post World War III in La Jetée are but a few examples. We forget that times of crisis and austerity are precisely when we need to build and develop our creative and cultural capacity, and invest in the arts and culture. Hans-Ulrich Obrist reminds us that Roosevelt did that when he set up the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression in the 1930s, and calls for a bold multimillion-pound public art project to support cultural institutions now, and to help create a new generation of artists.
#MagicCarpet has taught me that that only critiquing the status quo from ‘safe spaces’, adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude, or (still) dreaming of a total revolution don’t suffice anymore. A culture-change expert shares with me that being counter-cultural is too easy – we need to co-create (pathways towards) solutions (Schelde 2020).
That is also what has been said about what I do. In my running studies for instance, I demonstrate a ‘completely different train of thought to thinking of running as a neoliberal practice’, but without only bashing it as a ‘neoliberal’ practice, but providing creative possibilities (global transdisciplinary post-doctoral researcher 2022).
In the same vein, my work in neurodiversity centres around leadership and creative research. NT-bashing (bashing ‘neurotypicals) or only being anti-ableist in itself is limiting and essentialist (and very ‘disability arts’ and ‘sociology’), the same way it isn’t enough to wear labels as badges of honour or free passes, as if that makes you automatically fascinating. Instead, isn’t it more interesting to show how the amazing work that you do can embody + enact + advance your fields and which also show off and expand how we understand and ‘do’ neurodiversity.
(While we are at it, equally, a superpower narrative is critical to counter the dominant narrative that focuses on deficit, but the danger of essentialism and exceptionalism, and non-inclusive — including reinforcement and duplication of existing hierarchies like white supremacy etc — has been the toxic outcome from what I have observed from disability arts and other fields).
- This is one generation from where/when we are: far yet at once soon enough.
- By 2050, UN says that the world population will be 9.8 billion, out of which at least 1.5 million people or 15% of humans will be neurodivergent (or depending on how neurodivergence is defined, one in three). Climate change will impoverish, displace, and kill more than 240 million people by 2050, whilst incurring $520 billion losses (Worldbank).
- 2050 is the timeline set by several government agencies and global organisations, such as UK’s Maritime 2050 and UNESCO’s Pathway to 2050 and Beyond, its vision of a new, more robust higher education, (which is more visionary than UN’s failed 2030 Sustainable Development Goals — outdated before it was written down — where the fuck is racism for instance?).
- I also aim to expire before then, by my own volition. Read elsewhere about my mention of an anti-natalist position (which is a position encompassing philosophical + environmental + feminist + humanist + anti-humanist + pro-cat + pro-Battlecat + pro-octopus + pro-octopussies perspectives), but I hope to sketch a piece soon to relate this to free will, end of life agitation, cycle of pain in our non-consensual hallucination (CF Buddha, Gibson) and more.
Examples of explorations around 2050:
Why 2050?: The film draws on my various commissions since the pandemic. Early 2020 was when I began to use ‘2050‘ as a framework to think about how the way things are can, or indeed should be. Explorations have included:
- an op-ed forRoyal Society of Arts the reframing neurodivergent artists as strategists for a post-pandemic future (04/2020);
- keynote-lecture re-imagining the future of education and work first presented to 130 Royal Society of Arts Fellows last summer (05/2020);
- followed by another commissioned by Contact Theatre, Performingborders and Howlround (US) interrogating ‘leadership’ (09/2020);
- and another keynote for Singapore Arts Week on the future of the arts and cinema (01/2021)
- recent keynotes which were also CPD units: for 870 international mental health professionals in Berlin and for 186 dyslexia specialists (Spring 2021)
Caption for top image: Still representing a proposal from circa 2012, as part of my durational performance Kaidie and her 1000-Day Trans-Run 12.12.2009-09.09.2012) in my doctorate exploration The physical and poetic processes of running. A practice-related fine art discourse about a playful way to transform your world today which has been downloaded 4333 times between Summer 2014-April 2020.