Last month I collaborated with Sumugan Sivanesan on an SF storytelling/political therapy picnic. It was part of Nida Art Colony‘s 8th Inter-format Symposium, On Rites & Terrabytes, and involved a 2-month development residency at Nida, a Lithuanian seaside resort town, in the lead-up.
At the edge of the sixth mass extinction, the project asked what new performative practices might enable us to collectively acknowledge the disappearance of particular species or ecological assemblages. Storytelling was approached as an ambiguous and slippery tool for meaning (and myth) making, with potential to help us navigate, position or transform ourselves in the here and now. Set in 2086, our narrative traced possible futures and peripheral pasts around specific sites of loss and of co-becoming (the baltic sturgeon, the arctic raspberry), combining wondering/wandering, embodied in/digestion and forms of SF (speculative fiction, science fantasy, selective foraging, social fermentation, food sovereignty).
After many weeks traipsing through the dunes, forest and beach, collecting spruce shoots, nettles, raspberry leaves and mosquito bites, talking to local biologists and foragers, concocting jellies and pancakes and fermented sodas, we finally hosted our picnic on Day 2 of the symposium.
For those of you who missed out on this bumper 2086 edition, here’s a taste of what the Society got up to. See you next year, and remember to visit our blog.
Toasting the locally extinct arctic raspberry, and the alive and well wild strawberry, with wild strawberry kvass (fermented soda).
UFO landing site. Space lichen, astrobiology and Cold War luxuries.
Flummery! Made with agar and blueberries from the old forest. The Permian mass extinction and microplastic futures.
The Great Tuning Fork
This year the Amateur Lichenologists Society also had a presence in Vilnius, with the opportunity to show some work alongside Žilvinas Landzbergas in the Vilnius Academy of Arts Glass Pavilion, as part of Teleport to Nida.
That’s our life-size baltic sturgeon below (long ago extinct in the wild), the exact length of the last one caught in the Baltic Sea, off a remote island in Estonia.
Thanks to everyone who attended this year’s picnic, and to Nida Art Colony for hosting us!