THE GROVE

THE FUTURE OF THE SAHEL

 

Collages as part of desertification of the Sahel Region research. As part of the counter-proposal to the Epistle of the Harvest visual, I have revisited these visuals as part of the graphic novel being developed in collaboration with Jake Stephenson.

Whilst researching this project, I studied various climate models and environmental predictions of the future of the region. An estimated 2.6 million people remain displaced in the Lake Chad Basin with 6.5 million people considered food insecure in the region as of 2016 according to the United Nations. Because of this reality, the burden of desertification is inevitably placed on future generations.

Although the problem is grounded in current realities, the creative response can embrace the freedom of speculative fiction and futurist fabrication. The use of science fiction as a literary and artistic resource for a design proposal challenges the acceptance of environmental degradation as inevitable and irreversible.

 

Science fiction instead portrays the potential of our future landscape, as well as dystopian possibilities our current actions might conceive. Author and English Professor Ben Lerner argues “in order to perceive a particular thing too imperfect, we must have in mind some ideal of perfection”.

THE RITUAL OF REFORESTATION

These motion images represent reviving traditional ecological knowledge and cultural practice as well as liturgical observances that serve the natural world. Liturgy is defined as the communal performance of sacred activities such as praise, thanksgiving, remembrance, supplication or repentance. They are customary public worship prescribed acts of worship and observances. Liturgy is derived from the Greek term ‘leitourgia’ meaning ‘work for the people’, ‘public work’, or ‘public service’.

 

Osogbo Groves are sacred forests located in Osun State, Western Nigeria. These traditional groves were a sacred venue reserved for worship and through this, inadvertently led to the conservation of the forest as activities such as farming, hunting, fishing and felling of trees were strictly prohibited in the sacred forests. This is from a time where reverence for the celestial went alongside respect for the natural domain. The Osogbo Groves is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to the large adobe and timber architectural sculptures within the forest. These constructions within sacred forests were common in pre-colonial Yorubaland and acted as an altar or shrine for the city. The term shrine is from the Latin scrinium meaning "case or chest for books or papers".

 

The idea of public service and sacral structures is present in many faiths and cultures. Every year, the Great Mosque of Djenné in Central Mali is replastered with adobe drawn out of the Bani river during the rainy season. Djenné youth procure the clay and plaster the 13th-century structure as an act of piety.

MAGICAL REALISM & STORYTELLING

 

In the literary style of magical realism, The [Dis]Honourable Harvest uses fantasy and fiction as a means to address real-world issues like the climate crisis— in this instance deforestation and desertification in the Sahel region through cutting, collaging and making futurist moving collages. An altar is a meeting place between humanity and divinity. This diagram depicts the layers between these two worlds; nature the spatial creation of divinity and architecture the spatial creation of humanity are layered between these two realms.

"The screen is the altar. I'm the one they sacrifice to. Then till now. Golden Age to Golden Age. They sit side by side, ignore each other, and give it up to me...time and attention
—better than lamb's blood"
MEDIA, AMERICAN GODS S1 E2
ACT 1
FADE IN:
 
EXT. LAKE CHAD, NGR — DAY                                                 1
 
We glide over the arid remanence of the forest surrounding the Lake Chad Basin. The Sahel Region has expanded and consumed all traces of human and nonhuman life. The camera lingers at a large barrier made of sand and stars, a portal between the human and celestial world.
 
We move across this wasteland, panning over the little water left in the basin and a few barren, dying trees till we reach…
 
EXT. OSOGBO GROVES, NG — NIGHT                                   2
 
...A man kneels before an undulating adobe and timber structure. The altar is surrounded by seeds and kernels, collected and placed as libations.
 
As he prays, the man receives a vision of abundant forests and blooming flowers, water flowing and filling up the cracks in the earth. He opens his eyes, they glow with stars. Possessed, picks up one of the kernels and walks to what remains of the Osun River. He places the kernel in the water and waits. The camera pans to the sky...
 
EXT. OSUN RIVER, NG — DAY                                                  3
 
...timelapse over many days and nights. The camera pans back down to the water. The man stood in the same position in the stream, which is now bright blue and reflecting the stars and moon in the sky. An ethereal-looking water hyacinth plant blooms before him. 
 
CUT TO:
A close up of three water hyacinths blooms swaying in a clay pot of water. The man starts a fire beneath the pot and begins to cook the plant. Camera zooms into the clay pot...
 
CUT TO:
...Camera zooms out of trough. An emancipated cow feeds on the bulk made from the plant placed before him by Kō.
 
Sings a hymn to UBĀNGĪDĪ thankful for the harvest and thankful for KÍ.