Why is it that to travel from one country to another, we must apply for internationally recognised documents, keep them on our persons, and in some cases, register and pay fees to enter a foreign nation? Whilst deer and foul cross borders as they please, without so much as having to declare their intentions?
The line we draw in the sand and call a border is imagined. It has been developed over time by struggles for power and the creation of national identities. While the concept of a border is imagined, it does not mean that that concept comes without consequences. The ideas of national identity are only one of the many perceptions that separate us, or the Self, from Others.
Human culture functions as a kind of hegemony, a uniform base of discourse and ideas that dominates how we live and leave a mark on the world. This hegemony is often constructed through hierarchical divisions, such as differences in race, gender, wealth, mobility, and location. When we consider the real consequences of perceived differences within the construct of these divisions, we can see how it becomes easier for humanity to dominate and take advantage of subjects, humanity perceives as ‘lesser’. This degree of subjugation is unavoidable and damaging and most visible today in the domination of nature, where nature has become the ‘other’ or the ‘lesser’.
Therefore, the question of the relationship between man and nature is a complex question that must be resolved dialectically, without unilaterally privileging one of the two dimensions (natural or social).
The present perceived dichotomy between human and nature has a real effect on the way companies, nations and individuals approach the land. The ongoing war in Ukraine has been called a fossil fuel war, exposing how humanity relies on non-renewable energy and has failed to meet carbon emission reduction goals that were agreed upon at international conferences decades ago. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released their 2022 report on the status of climate justice progress, a report which UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has called an “atlas of human suffering ad a damaging indictment of failed leadership”. Moreover, the relationship between the scarcity of resources and world conflicts as well as the relationship between nature and diseases, has now been confirmed and established in several studies. The recent COP26 conference in Glasgow received major criticism as a source of unfilled promised and climate inaction, shrouded in the fog of emissions from leaders’ private jets to and from the conference. All these examples reveal an extreme urgency on the issue of climate change and a renewed need to examine the source of humanity’s attitude towards its natural counterpart. At present, ecocides, universally understood to mean mass damage and destruction of ecosystems – severe harm to nature, which is widespread or long-term, has not yet being recognised as a crime by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Unlike suing and fining corporations (who simply budget for this possibility), making ecocide a crime creates an arrestable offence. It makes those individuals who are responsible for acts or decisions that lead to severe environmental harm liable to criminal prosecution.
Our project aims to understand this dichotomy as it would any other – considering how humanity’s need to have power over nature was born, how it developed over time and with the onset of new institutions, and how this difference between humanity and nature is perceived when it is filtered through mediums like art, literature, film, newspapers, and social media. We would like to examine our own experiences of nature and how we can try to individually dissolve our perceived differences in the dichotomy between nature and humankind and therefore experience ‘unfiltered’. We believe that through a more dialectical and open conception, we will be able to address questions concerning ethics or ecology.
For this reason, we are going camping in the Dutch national Park, De Hoge Veluwel. We are not expecting a sublime and cathartic sort of rebirth (to come out of the forest and never again chew a stick of gum or buy something wrapped in plastic), but to have a better understanding of ourselves. We would like to perceive nature fully, as organism subjects who interpret according to our own potential and who will carry this experience into our lives and into our future interactions with nature, to remember where we come from and that we too, are animals. This platform serves the purpose of sharing our experience with you.