We continue our coverage of Stories on Earth, an experiment that brings together spatial designers and writers to devise new spatial narratives that accommodate the inherent interrelationship between humans and the non-human. Together, these artists have crafted three stories that open up the possibility of imagining radically different worldviews, challenging society’s prevailing belief in a separation between humans and everything else.
Christin Hu hosts once again for this third instalment, this time with guests Bassem Saad and Ameneh Solati, fellow FA editors and participants in the Stories on Earth project. Their video “The Great Reanimation” uses as its subject the chimera, a fantastical creature artificially created by combining parts of different specimens, either in drawings or taxidermy, which were ubiquitous in early natural history exhibitions Inspired by the ancient fables that would feature non-human creatures to broach difficult topics concerning people’s relationship with authority, and touching upon questions of antispecism, equality, and the legacy of colonialism, their story narrates a dystopian scenario in which the chimeras have come to life and are demanding fair compensation for the decades they spent on display for the entertainment of humans. In the episode, Christin, Bassem and Ameneh touch discuss the history of the natural history museum and its deceptively innocent origins in cabinets of curiosity collected by scientists and explorers during the early period of Western colonial expansion. They also reflect on the working process that went into the video and its parallels with contemporary pretest movements advocating for colonised and oppressed communities.