“How do 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’re going to be saved by escaping the planet?”
Phillips is the Director of Earth Force Climate Command, a non-profit organization whose slogan “Earth is sexier than Mars” is showcased on a sleek website that mimics Space X. The group is a “network of established and emerging artists, activists, design thinkers and local organizations around the world who help prototype and implement community visions and solutions for the future,” according to the website.
And one of those prototypes is landing in Colorado: The Aspen Space Station: Wild Future Outpost will activate numerous installations, gallery exhibits, and events in and around the mountain town from Saturday, July 23 through September 11.
This is the second time EFCC has hosted the event in Aspen and their team there has grown from four local artists to eleven. “It’s all going to be over this year,” says Phillip. “We’ll be part of Intersect Aspen, the art fair that’s held here the first week of August; we’re hosting a workshop at the Aspen Art Museum; we will be in front of the Red Brick Art Center. And then we have many installations and experiential workshops that are in locations that are only disclosed at registration.” (To register you must take the EFCC Future Proof exam and email Phillips at [email protected])
The idea of space stations as a vehicle for climate activism was realized far from Aspen. EFCC started in 2019 as a project for refugees in Kenya to get involved in their new environment. Refugees “often feel they have no identity or direction, and people tend to see them as a liability to the places they’ve come to,” explains Phillips. “So we thought about how we could change history, and we thought, ‘What if we did Earth Force Climate Command, where they become members and help save the environment or do climate projects in countries to work that do? they moved?’ That was the initial impetus.”
Working on alternative refugee housing on the remote island of Lamu, about sixty miles from the Somali border, Phillips found the “antithesis of space fantasy narratives,” she recalls. There were no cars; everything was moved by donkeys or boats. Inspired by basket-like structures on the island, she began to wonder, “What if we built a space station on Lamu?”
“How do we envision hyperlocal futures? There’s this kind of burgeoning local futurism movement that I think we’re a big part of,” she says. “What if we need to create a fantasy based only on the resources we have at our own location? Because most of us probably won’t go live on Mars. So the project somehow grew out of this zeitgeist.”
EFCC has three fundamental aspects on its agenda: first, to stay on Earth; second, to enjoy it; and third, “to stop thinking we could burn this planet down and then flee to another,” notes Phillips. EFCC has installed space stations to promote this agenda in Lamu, Lesvos and Khartoum. It will return to Kenya in the winter to build another in Nairobi.
Phillips created a storytelling narrative for the Wild Future Outpost that each of the artists explain through their space stations. This year’s story takes place in the year 2222, with the artists being a “group of scientists, ecologists and natural philosophers who travel and study this region because wildfires have caused the entire West to be deserted for almost 200 years,” explains Phillips . “We… are trying to understand: Why did this climate collapse happen? How has the earth recovered over time?
“And that was the challenge for the artists, so to speak. From there, people submitted suggestions and ideas based on the narrative, [and] Of course you can go in many, many, many directions with that,” she continues. “I generally keep it pretty open once we develop the basic narrative structure for the artists to come up with their own ideas.”
Each space station in Aspen is designed to address a different set of challenges, highlighting futuristic visions and emphasizing how we should enjoy the beauty around us. Phillips is the artist behind “Sky Bath,” a ten-foot-tall platform that people can climb up and gaze at the sky. “There’s a bed that’s built into the tower, and then people lie on the bed, and then you’re kind of in heaven. You can experience space very easily,” she notes. “You only have to climb three meters.”
Aspen will also witness its first NFT exhibition through the work of DJ Furth, which will be displayed in a mining cabin on Aspen Mountain; there will be an opening show. Furth will also give a talk on NFT art at Hexton Gallery. The NFTs are part of a series called Portraits of someone else, showing what Furth imagines humans would look like in 200 years if humans merged with androids. The result, Phillips says, is 90 percent human with some unsettling details that transport the viewer into the Android narrative.
“We also have a very top secret location where the NFTs are shown. People will be told the location when they register, and it will take a hike to see them at that location,” she says. “So it will be dark [the NFTs] will be the only thing that’s dark out in the woods – moving portraits.”
She adds, “Clarity Fornell weaves the Aspen space suits, and Nori Pao will help the people make their prophecies for 200 years in the future on clay tablets, and then we’ll burn them in a kiln and bury them in a secret place since.” 200 years!” Artist Chris Erikson also created a concept-heavy work called ASAP, which stands for American Safety Armor Pods.
“It’s this fire pod he envisions that people will need to have on their property 100 years from now to shelter and when there’s a massive climate collapse,” Phillips explains.
Because EFCC is non-profit, artists receive 100 percent of the proceeds when their art is sold.
Storytelling isn’t just the foundation of Wild Future Outpost: so what Phillips calls “outer space fantasizing” has become a common goal, once for nations and now for billionaires. Last year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Space X founder Elon Musk were involved in what pop culture has dubbed the “space race.” And Bezos, Phillips notes, wore a hat by Aspen’s Kemosabe as he took off in his infamous phallic rocket ship. “We’ve all been so indoctrinated into space fantasy narrative. I think the reason Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos want to go to space is because they were also indoctrinated into space fantasy narrative. You know we did star trek, war of stars, duneall of these things constantly perpetuate this myth about the idea that we’re going to live anywhere other than Earth,” she says.
“The two unconscious stories in our culture right now are: first, that the earth is doomed; and second, that our only hope is to escape to these other planets and that we will fly to Mars and start over there. She continues. “And those two narratives are connected. Not directly, but I think subconsciously; they’re intertwined. And they’re super problematic because neither of them are actually true. They’re both just narratives that pushed forward.” … My question is, 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 yet,” says Phillips, and 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 get people to have a conversation about the future, not fear.” based.”
Wild Future Outpost can be found throughout Aspen from Saturday, July 23rd through September 11th; The full schedule can be found here. Visit TheFutureIsOnEarth.org for more information.