“How can we create our best possible future in our communities and stop waiting for someone else to somehow save us?” asks Ajax Phillips. “Or this idea that we are going to be saved by escaping the planet?
She is the director of Earth Force Climate Command, a nonprofit organization whose slogan, “Earth is sexier than Mars,” is featured on a sleek website that mimics Space X. The group is a “network of established and emerging artists, activists, design thinkers and grassroots organizations around the world who help prototype and implement community visions and solutions for the future,” according to this website.
And one of those prototypes is landing in Colorado: Space Station Aspen: Wild Future Outpost will activate numerous installations, gallery exhibits, and events throughout the mountain town and surrounding areas from Saturday, July 23 through September 11.
This is the second time the EFCC has held the event in Aspen, and its team has grown from four local artists to eleven. “This year is going to be over,” says Phillips, “so we’re going to be part of Intersect Aspen, which is the art fair that’s held here the first week of August; we’re having a workshop at the Aspen Art Museum, we’re We’re going to be in front of the Red Brick Art Center. And then we have a lot of installations and experiential workshops that are in places that are given by registration only.” (To register you will need to take the EFCC Future Proof exam and email Phillips at [email protected])
The idea of space stations as a means of climate activism came to fruition far from Aspen. The EFCC started in 2019 as a project enabling refugees in Kenya to engage with their new environment. Refugees “often have this feeling of having no identity or direction, and people tend to see them as a burden on the places they came to,” says Phillips. “So we thought about how we could change history and we thought, ‘What if we do Earth Force Climate Command, where they become members and they help save the environment or work on climate projects in the country they moved to?’ That was the initial impetus.”
While working on alternatives for refugee housing on the remote island of Lamu, about sixty miles from the Somali border, Phillips found “the antithesis of fantasy tales from outer space”, she recalls . There were no cars; everything was moved by donkeys or boats. Inspired by the island’s basket-like structures, she began to wonder, “What if we build a space station in Lamu?”
“How do we imagine hyperlocal futures? There’s this kind of nascent local futurism movement that I think we’re an integral part of,” she says. “What if we were to create a fantasy based on the resources we have in our own region? Because most of us probably won’t go and live on Mars. So the project was kind of born out of that zeitgeist. .”
The EFCC has three fundamental aspects to its agenda: first, staying on Earth; second, to take advantage of it; and third, “stop thinking we can burn this planet down and then escape to another,” Phillips notes. The EFCC has set up space stations to promote this program in Lamu, Lesvos and Khartoum. He will return to Kenya this winter to build another in Nairobi.
Phillips created a narrative narrative for the Wild Future Outpost which each of the artists exhibits through their space stations. This year’s plot is set in the year 2222, with the artists as “a group of scientists, ecologists and natural philosophers who travel through this region to study it because wildfires have led abandoned by the whole West for nearly 200 years,” says Phillips. . “We’re trying…to figure out: Why did this climate collapse event happen? How did the Earth recover over time?
“And that was kind of the incentive for the artists. From there, people submitted proposals and ideas based on the narrative. [and] obviously you can go in many, many directions with this,” she continues. “I usually stay pretty open once we’ve developed the basic storytelling structure to allow artists to develop their own ideas.
Each space station in Aspen is meant to tackle a different set of challenges, both highlighting futuristic visions and bringing to the fore how we should enjoy the beauty around us. Phillips is the artist behind “Sky Bath”, a ten foot high platform for people to climb up and look up at the sky. “There’s a bed that’s been built in the tower, and then people lay on the bed and then you’re kind of in the sky. You can experience the space very easily,” she notes. “You only have to go up ten feet.”
Aspen will also see its first NFT exhibition through the work of DJ Furth, which will be featured in a mining cabin on Aspen Mountain; there will be an opening party. Furth will also give a lecture on NFT art at the Hexton Gallery. NFTs are part of a series called Portraits of another, showing what Furst imagines what people would look like 200 years from now if humans merged with androids. The result, says Phillips, is a 90% human with unsettling details that entice the viewer into the android narrative.
“We also have a very secret location where the NFTs will be shown. People will be given the location upon registration and there will be a hike to view them at this location,” she says. “It’s going to get dark, so [the NFTs] will be the only thing in the woods in the dark – moving portraits.”
She adds that “Clarity Fornell weaves the Aspen Space Suits, and Nori Pao will help people make their prophecies for 200 years in the future on clay tablets, and then we’ll bake them in a kiln and bury them somewhere. secret. for 200 years!” Artist Chris Erikson also made a concept work called “ASAP”, which stands for “American Safety Armor Pods”.
“It’s this capsule of fire that he imagines people 100 years from now will need to have on their property for shelter, and when there’s a massive climate collapse,” Phillips says.
As the EFCC is a non-profit organization, artists will receive 100% of the profits if their art is sold.
Storytelling isn’t just the basis of Wild Future Outpost: it’s how space fantasy, as Phillips calls it, has morphed into a pervasive goal, once for nations and now for billionaires. Last year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Space X founder Elon Musk embarked on what pop culture dubbed the “space race.” And Bezos, Phillips notes, wore an Aspen-based Kemosabe hat when he took off in his famous phallic rocket. “We’ve all been so indoctrinated into space fantasy storytelling. I think the reason Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos want to go to space is because they’ve also been indoctrinated into space fantasy storytelling. You know we had star trek, star wars, Dunesall of these things constantly perpetuating this myth about the idea that we are going to live somewhere other than on Earth,” she says.
“The two subconscious stories in our culture right now are: one, that Earth is doomed; and two, that our only hope is to escape to this other planet and we’re going to go to Mars and start over there,” She keeps. “And those two narratives, they’re tied to each other. Not directly, but I think subconsciously; they’re intertwined with each other. And they’re super problematic because neither of them is actually true. It’s just narratives being pushed. … My question is simply, how do we begin to transform the narrative?”
One way was to create the tongue-in-cheek Billionaire Space Fantasy Recovery program, which EFCC advertised in the local newspaper. “No one has answered that question yet,” Phillips laughs.
“What I’m hoping and trying to do here,” she concludes, “is to use something playful like a space station – which is absurd and totally ridiculous – as a fun way to bring people to start a conversation about the future that is not based on fear.”
Wild Future Outpost can be found in Aspen from Saturday, July 23 through September 11; find the full program here. For more information, visit TheFutureIsOnEarth.org.