Metabolic Selves

Digital Campaign  2020

In our collaboration with the Serpentine Galleries’ Back to Earth initiative and the General Ecology project, Metabolic Selves call for a New Metabolic Order, a platform for understanding the shifting nature of our metabolic selves. To ingest in a post-industrial world is an inadvertent act, no longer a process of definitive input for desired output. Rather, ingestion in the Anthropocene reverses this lens, subjugating bodies to the same chemical influx as we have exerted on our environment. When we ingest matter into our bodies, we also ingest a chain of political signifiers. In order to reach a post-industrial understanding, there needs to be a shift away from considering pollution and pollutants as a process of cause and effect, and rather an acknowledgment of the joint history, and overlapping definitions of the human and the more-than human. Our platform proposes readings and conversations between substances and their relative stakeholders. Each project provides an understanding by which we can reassess the shifting nature and our existence in the era of post industrial metabolism.

On the occasion of the campaign launch for Back to Earth(1.10.2020), students from the collective  convened a conversation with sociologist Hannah Landecker, human rights and environmental activist Kumi Naidoo and artist-researcher and writer Susan Schuppli.

In the age of Industrial Capitalism, where costs are being cut to make profits, there has been an increased demand to produce alternative products that last longer, are lighter, and cheaper to produce. The inorganic substance Formaldehyde has led the way in multiple innovations across industry since its accidental discovery in 1859 to its first application in 1907 creating the first plastic-Bakelite. These include the generation of your IKEA furniture, that new-car smell, painted walls, and the majority of products inside your makeup bag. However, Formaldehyde seeps from much of the engineered woods that give our homes comfort and security forming residues of industrialisation. Welcome to the Post-Industrial Metabolism! Matter is no longer only travelling through our bodies, but our bodies are now travelling through matter. What are the consequences of this synthetic substance on more-than-human metabolism? Furthermore, who are the social groups using these products and what are the hidden agendas behind their distribution?

 

This project investigates the problem of indoor pollution, more specifically what Michelle Murphy defines as “sick building syndrome”. This phenomenon describes a situation where occupants of a building suffer from illness or chronic disease from the space in which they work or reside. Sick building syndrome provides an understanding of how environmental politics moves indoors. ​Mobile homes which are now almost exclusively constructed of engineered woods and plastics are bound by formaldehyde-based resins and adhesives. The continuous layering of caravans accommodating often marginalised gypsies and travellers results in a layering of problems.

CONTRIBUTORS:
TONDERAI MABOREKE, MAYOLA TIKAKA, KRISTOFERS SCIPANOVS, RACHEL HOUSLEY, YUHIN(JAKE) CHUN, TSZ CHUNG(TIMOTHY) CHAN, CHARLOTTE TORO, REMI KUFORIJI, CYPRIAN BOATENG, , ALEXA SZEKERES,
CLAIRE GREENLAND, FREYA BOLTON
COLLABORATORS:
WEB DEVELOPMENT: SHAWN MCCALLUM
MUSIC: SABESTIAN LALA, IONICÅ MARIAN
SPONSORED BY THE SERPENTINE GALLERIES

THE LAUNCH: METABOLIC SELVES IN CONVERSATION

THE RIGHT TO BREATHE

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