I spent the second half of 2018 at the Institute for Provocation (IFP) in Beijing, China, via the Australia Council International Residencies program. Apart from eating noodles, one thing I ended up doing a lot of was reading with others about extinction. You can read more about what we read (and did) on the project blog here. If you’re in China, you can also visit the IFP and ask to listen to the box set cassette tape library of readings that we left behind. The Extinction Club Reading Group is part of a larger project attempting to cultivate what Donna Haraway has called ‘ways of living and dying well together’ in a thick present, a moment when the times of many beings are coming to an end.
The project also involved slowly working towards a handmade book + cassette tape, The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge: An Incomplete Inventory of Extinctions in the People’s Republic of China, which will be a kind of delirious encyclopedia of extinctions in this part of the world, including sound pieces by contributing artists. Meanwhile, research materials and activities conducted thus far were presented at IFP’s Black Sesame Space in a solo show early last year, at the close of the residency. Members of the Reading Group read aloud parts of their favourite texts, I baked lots of things with black sesame in them, and we recorded one last tape live for the Beijing Chapter Cassette Library.
Thanks again to everyone at IFP, all participants of the Extinction Club Reading Group, and everyone else who helped me along the way. I will return to continue this project when the world allows it!