This work was performed as part of Future Folk by Zé (Jefferson) Kielwagen. Performers were costumed in anthropogenic materials, and formed a haltingly slow procession in downtown Troy, New York (Oct 2022).

I constructed a funerary costume from agricltuural materials that serve as supressants of life, or as means of containment: bird netting, landscaping fabric for weeds, and chicken wire. In addition, I incorporated black plastic netting as a veil, a material used on farms experiencing extreme temperatures and harsh sun. These materials simultaneously speak to the precartiy of global agriculture in an Anthropocene world, as well as the harsh realities of containment enacted through frameworks deliniating false binaries between nature/culture. Agriculture has been posited as a possible start date for the Anthropocene—a moment when we began geo-engineering the earth at scale and creating lasting human “marks” on the earth. Agriculture represents a primary example of post-natural landscapes, and domesticated plants and animals challenge the kinds of ontological hygiene which keep humans separate from nature. Industrial agriculture might be one of the best examples of plastified nature—“plastic” in that it replicates the mentality of plasticity and attempts to create synthetic universality (Heather Davis, Plastic Matters). Indeed, hegemony (in the form of monocropping) is one of agriculture’s greatest accomplishments, and creates an imaginary where we have control over nature through a globalized food system. These black materials speak to our attemtps to execute that control, and they absorb the interactions and inevitabillities of a messy post-natural world.

From Kielwagen:
“The project proposes new forms of folklore, new cultural forms fit for the apocalypse... It responds to Mark Fisher’s concerns, by exposing the Real concealed by capitalist realism. It responds to Claire Bishop’s critique of relational art by producing uneasy relationships. It rises to a challenge posed by Slavoj Zizek in Examined Life: to re-create an aesthetic dimension, poetry and spirituality, in trash. It follows David le Breton in employing slowness and silence as strategies of resistance.”

Documentation by Ava Goucher and Fatima Kamara
Troy, NY + NYC