Everything smells chemical, even the people.
Oh my dog, carnists! I completely forgot they still eat animals in the 21st. I mean, the plant based movement has started (it’s still called veganism here), but when you walk through the streets it smells like burning flesh on almost every corner. It’s mixed with another very distinct smell, which took me a while to figure out. It’s gasoline – the sweat of the 21st. I talked about the smell before, but really all the virtual exhibitions you may have visited cannot prepare you for this.Everything smells chemical, even the people.
I took a walk yesterday, through a public park. The nature here, as dirty and sprinkled with plastic as it may be, is so beautiful. Animals and plants I’ve only seen on screens are still alive and thriving here. Between plastic bottles and paper cups, cigarette butts and candy wrappers, there are murders of crows. They sit around decorated by daisies, ignorant of the paradise demising around them. Just like the people.
Not everyone here is like this of course. History has always happened in various velocities. If you compare this with the 2050s, for example, artists and activists are the forbearers of what’s to come, the avant-garde that’s dragging the rest kicking and screaming to an appropriate timeline.
Aunt Rezan told me about the civil engineering work she did in the Middle East. A lot of rebuilding was only possible through the courage, vision and creative improvisations of local collectives. They used the rubble to rebuild a freer society, questioning the border lines drawn over a century ago by some self-centered imperialists. If you look closely you can feel the shift coming. Capitalism is still a global belief system, but the sharing economy has begun to undercut some of it. It is very interesting to see this mixed form regime – kind of like the evolutionary missing link. In some areas the namesake of these times is very present.
These anxious times, truly deserving of their nomenclature, are filled with so many conflicts – over resources, power, religion. I am lucky enough to have landed in Berlin, where things are still very rosy. If I had landed a few years later or a few hundred kilometers south or east, I probably wouldn’t have been able to survive with my lack of knowledge of current events. Berlin still is, if not welcoming, at least les affaires to strangers, to an odd egg like me, just a drop in an ocean of individual weirdness.
You might be wondering how I survived without money in the capitalist age. It was because of some exceptional people, that’s for sure. Artists and activists, as I’ve mentioned before. they found me naked and wounded by what I assume must have been the snags of time travel. I couldn’t tell them what had happened to me of course, but they tended to me anyway and even let me stay with them for a while. I had to completely rely on the kindness of strangers when I first fell into 2018.
If you look closely you can feel the shift coming.
I was asleep for most of the first few weeks, healing from frostbite (which was hard to explain in the middle of June), but from what I gathered, they didn’t have much themselves. The kindness of strangers hasn’t been cultivated yet, but it’s there, it always has been, and it’s been a force of progress for humankind, even here in the age of angst.
I can barely remember anything from the actual travel, only that my mind felt like it was having a migraine on an acid trip while my body appeared to be getting dipped in liquid nitrogen, everything was tinted in a red that was darker than black, tasted like silver, and smelled of dust. I must’ve eventually passed out and when I came to, my body looked the part.
After staying with my new friends for a few weeks, they helped me get work in a café. Imagine me standing in front of an old-timey coffee maker, a bridge between coffee and coins. This idea that one must do meaningless labor in order to provide for one’s own livelihood… I know you told me about it, but to live amongst people who have this ingrained in them as an unwavering reality, as the only possible reality…
I’m so glad this is just a phase. People being pressured into doing alienating work by an existential fear in a system they deem to be the evolutionary peak.
In any case I am happy about all the animals and plants I get to see and record. Of course it’s not as good as the virtual zoo, but something about being the creator of a photograph connects it to your own memory. So here, have some of my photographs. Though there’s so many of them out there, these are mine. They are also a way to keep my spirits up while I try to figure out how the freak I got here and how I can get back.
I feel lost but not without excitement,