TallkottTalk: 29 August 2014: Stockholm: Alienlands: the New Communities

Saturday August 30th 2014 by Peter Thomas Lang


The Talk previewed issues that will be presented at the Art in Translation Conference in Reykjavik September 18-20, though the talk was entirely based on diagrams, maps and sketches made at the outdoor Gazebo. I began by reviewing some of my own personal experiences, in Cyprus along the Green Line, Stalker and the ancient Roman Consular road Via Egnatia, the Berlin Wall and its aftermath, Chinatowns and their decentralizations, Mexican American Border Communities along the Rio Grande, (and Teddy Cruz’s symposium on San Diego Tijuana), work with Stalker and Osservatorio Nomade on Roma communities in Rome, and with Kyong Park, tracing the lost highway, in Europe Lost and Found, in Macedonia, and in Albania.

the Talk opened with an anecdote on the Otzi shaman, the circa 4000 year old frozen man found in a melting glacier in Southern Tyrol, by an Austrian couple in a territory that despite uncertainty of the location along discovery site   reverted to Italy according to a 1919 treaty. the mummy is now on view in his own museum in Bolzano, and presents the best example of the weirdness of border markings are in the end so temporary.


Alienlands presented three conditions: Running Away, Running Towards, and Being Blocked.

Running Away: Examples were given on situations leading to human flight and exodus, (using  these categories: Earth , Wind, Fire, and Water) describing volcano eruptions, earthquakes, wild fires, dust bowls, floods, climate change, hurricanes, and airborne contaminants and pollution. the man made categories are disaster and war related, bombings, aerial bombings, invasions, expulsions, genocides, lands rendered uninhabitable through pollution, radioactivity, lousy government.

Running Towards: Examples were given on situations in which people tend to run towards something (generally speaking Utopias) including historic examples, like the American Frontier, Manifest Destiny,  Utopian communities, lost utopias, migratory corridors, lands only in our imagination –Alice and Wonderland, the Hobbit, Narnia, Game of Thrones, etc.  Time machine variants, time travel (many of our younger generations escape towards these ‘medieval’ worlds on their x-boxes and playstations…).

Being Blocked: dealt with examples on natural and artificial barriers, including oceans, lakes, rivers, forests, deserts, and fences, ditches, walls, barbed wires, surveillance systems including drones, (and a discussion on how all these barriers are regularly breeched by tunnels and other tactics). Barriers force deep asymmetrical conditions, in economy, health, culture, politics, and appear permanent until they are suddenly reversed, erased, or destroyed, or moved.

Finally the talk moved into the unknown territory of the Future, outlining some possible scenarios on transmigration, borders, frontiers, exodus.

a full account of this presentation will be posted later on this website.