The Coming Catastrophe and Its Possible Decelerators //

The Future Is Ancestral

Multisensorial Installation by Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez


Installation is kindly supported by the Kreativfonds, Bauhaus University Weimar



expeditionen erkundungen in ästhetik und nachhaltigkeit

Internationale Wanderausstellung zur Verbindung von Kunst, Wissenschaft und politischen Aktivismus


Expeditions Explorations in Aesthetics and Sustainability

Bringing the harvest and the questions home

Eröffnung/Opening 11. Mai / May 11th, 2023

12. Mai – 16. Juli 2023

Eintritt frei / Free entrance

Di.–So. / Closed on Mondays


in the frameworks of the exhibit program


Fr. 16.06.2023 | 19:30 Uhr

Navigating the colonial and extractive past and present in artistic and academic practice

Gespräch über die Arbeit von Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez | Künstlerin ZNE!, Doktorandin Bauhaus-Universität Weimar und Dr. Mandana Seyfeddinipur | Endangered Languages Archive & Endangered Languages Documentation Programme | Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften

Das Gespräch wird auf Englisch geführt.

ARTICLE: the concept for the installation unfolded from my article The Drive Toward the Coming Catastrophe and Its Possible Decelerators, written for the Seminar "The Coming Catastrophe" offered by Nina Franz at Bauhaus University Weimar in 2019. My article can be read below.

Academic article by Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez. Please cite accordingly. 

Ramos-Velasquez, Vanessa. "The Drive Toward the Coming Catastrophe and Its Possible Decelerators". Date of publication 11.May.2023

The Mariri ceremony with the Shawãdawa Families and 16 outside guests united at Aldeia Arara Encantada, May 2022.

 The Drive Toward the Coming Catastrophe and Its Possible Decelerators

by Vanessa Maia Ramos-Velasquez



       This essay situates the tension surrounding the theme of a coming catastrophe, engendered by global climate change, as starting around 500 years ago with the European colonial, extractivist project in the Americas. This catastrophe is maturing as an environmental and existential crisis called Anthropocene⁠1, (yet still an unofficially named epoch). Insofar as this epoch is being determined as “a time period when humans have become a geological force,” (Chakrabarty2 2009), this essay looks into the Freudian concept of drive/Trieb as a determining force in the (destructive) history of humankind. The analysis is deepened by considering Freud’s drive theory and conjugating it with Marxist political economy critique via Samo Tomšič’s lecture The Culture of Death Drive: Capital and the End of the World. But the framing of a 500+ year period, demands to revisit types of “end” nearest and most similar to what the current one is (for many already) and could be like (for the lucky ones still not affected). This time period reveals a “what goes around, comes around” context, showing us a past “end”: Medieval Europe still recovering from its own demise – the Black Death plague (1346–1353) following the Great Famine (1315–1317) – but revived when in 1492 its navigational enterprises deployed in the Atlantic Ocean met the “New World”. This new beginning for Europe marked “The End” for the First Nations of a place that Europeans would then name America. European occupation of the Americas and its exploits there functioned as an embryonic stage of capitalism (a neoliberal seed). But the cannibalistic stage of capitalism on a global scale matured in the 20th Century, and in the 21st Century we are facing another “end”, when our choice becomes very limited: renounce Capitalism or forfeit livable life on Earth. 

       Because the “coming” catastrophe has already been underway for indigenous peoples since colonial America, this essay brings indigenous voices speaking in the present, who frequently remind the world of their expertise on the subject of the “end”. The reader can then put into perspective what the end of a mode of life means and what strategies one might develop for a reconstruction of everyone’s world, if we are to consider that we are all in the same boat – planet Earth. Perspectives by indigenous leaderships, Davi Kopenawa and Aílton Krenak are paired with those who have also contributed insights into Amerindian studies (Eduardo Viveiros de Castro & Déborah Danowski, Pedro Niemeyer Cesarino, Sidarta Ribeiro). They discuss features of the crisis and strategies to change direction when facing “The End” – both of a mode of life, as well as the possible extinction of our own species. The question proposed in this essay is: “What strategies for dealing with “The End” can we learn from indigenous peoples, who have already experienced their own end in a continuous and relentless manner?” 

       To start the analysis, an overview of some contexts in our Anthropocenic journey and the forces at play. A question posed by geophilosopher Kathryn Yusoff, helps us understand that 500-year marker and its resonance: “Tying the Anthropocene to conquest makes explicit the colonial relation, but how does this rupture of bodies, flesh, and worlds become buried in the notion of exchange and contact?” (1). She answers by describing the systematic transportation of (enslaved) bodies and the related racialized violences as corporeal frictions covered up by the “collision of the Old and New” (1):

The 1610 natal moment does, however, tie the origin of the Anthropocene to the death of 50 million indigenous people (80 to 95 percent of the population), systematic violence, and chattel slavery. This spike of brutality, sadism, and death, coupled with the subsequent dispossession of indigenous peoples from their land and the beginnings of industrial global slavery, enacts a foundational spatial inscription of colonialism (and race) into a monument of global environmental change. (3)

This massive spike of brutality against bodies (the indigenous population reduced from 54 million in 1492 to approximately 6 million in 1650), land and ultimately, nature, was not without significant global consequences centuries later. 

       When Dutch meteorologist and atmospheric chemist, Paul Crutzen coined the term Anthropocene, in year 2000, he stated:

It seems appropriate to assign the term ‘Anthropocene’ to the present, in many ways human-dominated, geological epoch, supplementing the Holocene3 – the warm period of the past 10–12 millennia. The Anthropocene could be said to have started in the latter part of the eighteenth century, when analyses of air trapped in polar ice showed the beginning of growing global concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane. This date also happens to coincide with James Watt’s design of the steam engine in 1784. (23)

The Anthropocene proposed in such a manner leaves out the very seed of the epoch: the anthropocentric European extractivist enterprises of the 16th century in South and Central Americas. The cross-continental trafficking of plundered materials using indigenous, then African slave labor sustained whole industries, despite the non-automated labor processes at the time. In fact, it can be argued here that the actual “engine” propelling the industrial revolution was the enormous abundance of raw materials and natural resources flowing into Europe from its colonies. 

       In their book “The Ends of the World,” Brazilian philosopher Déborah Danowski and anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro illustrate the intensity of these extractivist activities in the temporal dimension of circularity, or the eternal return:

Veritable end-of-the-world experts, the Maya and all other indigenous peoples of the Americas have a lot to teach us now that we are on the verge of a process in which the planet as a whole will become something like sixteenth-century America: a world invaded, wrecked, and razed by barbarian foreigners. Let the reader imagine herself watching - or rather, acting in - a sci-fi B movie in which the Earth is taken over by an alien race pretending to be humans, whose goal is to dominate the planet and to extract all its resources, after having used up their own home planet to the full. Usually, the aliens in such films feed on humans themselves: their blood, mental energy, and so forth.” (108) 

To better sense the ongoing threat that these forces represent, we should listen more frequently to indigenous leaderships narrating their own experiences to fill in the era’s blind spots on the notion of “Anthropos.” 

       Krenak recounts the first time he visited Kopenawa in the Yanomami Forest (Brazil/Venezuela) in 1985.⁠4 Kopenawa asked him if it was true that white people⁠5 are many. Krenak did not want to lie nor shock him, so he said they are as many as stars in the sky and sand at the waterfronts. Kopenawa was terrified, then asked: “What do they eat?” Krenak replied: “They eat absolutely everything – trees, stones, rivers… this whole forest”. Sadly, the 1980s marked the intensification of “The End” of Yanomami world as they knew it. They were invaded by some 40,000 gold miners, a calamity that continues to destroy their forest-home to this day. Kopenawa himself describes gold prospectors as mad dogs ferociously excavating into the earth. His narratives in aptly titled chapters Earth Eaters and Cannibal Gold in his book The Falling Sky: The Words of a Yanomami Shaman should be required reading for those who think themselves to be above becoming an environmental refugee. In Kopenawa’s lectures, when asked what one can do to help, he prompts us to stop buying and investing in gold. In fact, we should be asking ourselves, why partake in this colonial idea of ascribing value to a naturally occurring chemical element, tied to the extermination of life of other cultures? This cataclysm ushers another question: is the objectification and subjugation of traditional cultures (and nature) just due to capitalist forces? Kopenawa and Krenak’s narratives help us consider that in addition, there are other underlying forces, perhaps of an ontological nature.

       Likewise, if we look into psychology’s Drive Theory⁠6 (German “Trieb”), introduced by Freud to probe into human aggressive behavior, we could conclude that the ongoing destruction of the planet and perhaps before that happens, of our own species is our inevitable fate. In his book Civilization and its Discontents (written in 1929), he posits that “given this fundamental hostility of human beings to one another, civilized society is constantly threatened with disintegration.” (61). Freud proposes that this aggressive drive is inherent in human beings since their primeval origins: “I take the view that the tendency to aggression is an original, autonomous disposition in man, and I return to my earlier contention that it represents the greatest obstacle to civilization.” (74). In this original struggle, a complementary clash arises, between Eros: a libido drive (a force directed inwards – the nature inside – that ensures self-propagation, (imbued with egotistical love), and the death-wish drive, a force directed outwards (the nature outside), but nevertheless also a self-destruction, insofar as humans are part of nature and cannot exist without it. 

       Not very far from that psychological domain argument, Clark & Yusoff state that “Marx was fully in synch with his own era when he noted, some 170 years ago [89 years before Freud’s publishing of the aforementioned book], that ‘the nature that preceded human history… is nature which today no longer exists anywhere…’”.⁠7 (6). Marx’s critique of materialist philosophy that fails to acknowledge the social link between the historical man and nature is fully congruent with Amazonian archaeologic scholarship, which demonstrates that forests are neither given from divine creation nor meant to fulfill the (western utopian) conservationist notion of pristine virgin environment. Indigenous oral history and ethnobotany activism demonstrate through the ages that indigenous continuous production of the forest (beyond anthropogenic) for millennia is living proof that nature is culture. This relationship human-nature is what in the Anthropocene could constitute work as the unifying force that Freud (61) suggests in his time as insufficient to bring humans together in their own cause for survival.

       It would serve us well to look into hindrances to that Earthly (with a capital E) activism of indigenous peoples. The global neoliberal agenda (a maturation of 16th Century colonialism) counts amongst its policies the destruction of forests in indigenous territories as “unproductive land”. Other such failures to understand the human-nature relationship offer us a view of the coming catastrophe, where capital is at the center of social relationships, acting as a destructive force. Bringing Freud’s theory of the drive to the current neoliberal climate, Samo Tomšič resignifies drive/Trieb by conjugating it with Marx’s thesis in Capital as “a notion of limit, since the drive is a force operating at the border of corporeal and the mental, and the problematic connection of the physical and the symbolic.” Tomšič emphasizes the neoliberal naturalization of human greed: the drive of accumulation as the engine that moves the capitalist machinery, “whose aggressiveness escapes the mastery of the vast majority of human beings… This naturalization associates greed with an innate human egoism…” and he continues: “A crucial component of capitalist naturalism, the neoliberal economic doctrine, remained intact and along with it, the total subordination of politics to the economic phantasy of permanent growth and a fetishist appearance of automatic subject capital understood as the only true subject of politics… where the subject that is generated is capital itself.⁠8” (13:19)

       This mechanistic (and now algorithmic) self-propelling loop, is precisely the type of centrifugal force against which Krenak and Kopenawa warn us. Krenak states critically that “the end of the world may be a brief interruption of a state of ecstatic pleasure that we don't want to lose.” (60). Krenak interprets Kopenawa’s thought in an ontological frame that highlights the fetishistic relations created by capital: “white people exhaust common resources meant for the collective good with the belief that everything is a commodity, to the point of projecting everything we are capable of experiencing onto it.” (45). And then, Krenak rhetorically provokes anthropocentric attitudes: “Why value citizenship, alterity, and the ability to be in the world in a critical and conscious way, if you can be a consumer? This idea dispenses with the experience of living in a land full of meaning, on a platform for different cosmovisions.” (25). But this indigenous conception of living goes against the notion of progress exported to the world since colonial times as a race to win against nature. 

       Embedded in this race is the inseparability between cataclysm and capitalism. Danowski & Viveiros de Castro reference an “often cited witticism” from Marxist political theorist, Frederic Jameson, that we are stuck “between our (scientific) capacity to imagine the end of the world and our (political) incapacity to imagine the end of capitalism.” (18). To dimensionalize the existential entanglement this might involve with a dystopic End to match it, Danowski & Viveiros de Castro expound:

Accelerationists believe that ‘we’ must choose between the animal that we were and the machine that we shall be. In their materialist angelology, what they propose is, in short, a world without us - but made by us. Reciprocally, they imagine a post-human species re-created by a hypercapitalist ‘material platform’ - but without capitalists. A nature denatured by un-man. A materialism, at long last (!), spiritualized. (57)

By contrast, a decelerationist force to configure a future, not as utopic imagination, but as resistance, are autochthone societies and their drive stemming from a spiritual source, intrinsically bonded to nature. Spirit at the center of social relationships, not capital. 

       But “spirit” in the western sense does not account for all the relationships afforded by indigenous cosmovision and cosmopolitics. Danowski & Viveiros de Castro invite us to consider the following: 

Amerindian collectives, with their comparatively modest populations, their relatively simple technologies that are nonetheless open to high-intensity syncretic assemblages, are a "figuration of the future" (Krnijer 2010), not a remnant of the past. Masters of technoprimitivist bricolage and politico-metaphysical metamorphosis, they are one of the possible chances, in fact, of a subsistence of the future.” (123)

Those simple, but intensive technologies are all centered around the construction of the body, as Brazilian anthropologist Pedro Niemeyer Cesarino states:

Amazonian civilizations are created upon the body, through its aesthetic and interspecific transformation, which characterizes shamanism, as well as the relationship with the Earth, the production of kinship and social configurations. And it is exactly because of this low-impact technology that they were always conceived as ‘savages’ or ‘primitives’, a judgment mobilized to justify the plunder of their land and richness.” (12:53–13:45)⁠9

We could take Cesarino’s remark about the “Amazonian absence of stone monuments, pyramids and other durable productions that westerners associate with their own ethnocentric conception of civilization” (12:56-13:08) as a way to reconsider paradigmatic measures of “advancement” of civilization. 

       Each autochthone people have their own low-impact technologies. Entheogenic master-plants and the dream-world are among them. For the Yanomami people, the yãkoana⁠10 is their teacher, a cosmological entity, the source of knowledge for constructing the high-intensity syncretic assemblages suggested by Danowski & Viveiros de Castro. But Kopenawa sheds light on the epistemological gap between indigenous and non-indigenous understanding of the forest-world, and thereby the very idea of nature:

The power of the yãkoana powder comes from the trees of our land. So when the shamans’ eyes die under its effect, they can call down the urihinari forest spirits, the mãu unari water spirits, and the yarori animal ancestor spirits. This is why they are the only ones who truly know the forest… The shamans do not draw any words about the forest or the sky, nor any outlines of the land. They wisely avoid treating them as badly as the white people do. They drink the yãkoana to contemplate their images instead of merely reducing them to broken lengths of wavy lines. (370)

French anthropologist Bruce Albert, who for decades recorded Davi Kopenawa’s narratives and co-wrote the book The Falling Sky, state that “both yãkoana snuff and dreaming allow shamans to access the mythical times of origin which, for them, continue to unfold immutably in an eternal present, as a parallel dimension to historical time (that of migrations and wars).” (496). In fact, perhaps we can find the source of our current crisis if we consider the dichotomy that exists in diverging myths of creation. 

       In Judeo-Christian theology, its doctrine sets up an anthropocentric order: “God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.’” [Gen 1:28]. It has only been recently, with Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ that this doctrine has adopted an eco-friendly stance. In Yanomami creation, although there are similarities in the divine instruction to humans when relating to other beings, what is remarkable is the low-impact technology, the master-plant that Omama, the Yanomami creator leaves on Earth as a humane guiding principle. 

Omama’s image told our shaman elders: “You live in this forest I created. Eat the fruit of its trees and hunt its game. Open your gardens to plant banana plants, sugarcane, and manioc. Hold big reahu feasts! Invite each other from one house to another, sing and offer each other food in abundance!” He did not tell them: “Abandon the forest and give it to white people so they can clear it, dig into its soil, and foul its rivers!” This is why I want to send my words far away. They come from the spirits that stand by my side and are not copied from image skins I may have looked at. They are deep inside me. It was very long ago that Omama and our ancestors left them in our thought and we have kept them there ever since. They can have no end. By lending an ear to them, white people may stop believing we are stupid. Maybe they will understand that it is their own minds that are confused and darkened, for in the city they only listen to the sound of their planes, their cars, their radios, their televisions, and their machines. So their thought is most often obstructed and full of smoke. They sleep without dreams, like axes abandoned on a house’s floor. Meanwhile, in the silence of the forest, we shamans drink the powder of the yãkoana hi trees, which is the xapiri spirits’ food. Then they take our image into the time of dream. This is why we can hear their songs and contemplate their presentation dances during our sleep. This is our school⁠11 to really know things. Omama did not give us any books in which Teosi’s [Deus/God] words are drawn like the ones white people have. He fixed his words inside our bodies. (Kopenawa 23-24)

Kopenawa also explains the appearance of the yãkoana in the Yanomami myth of creation: “Later Omama’s son became a young man and his father wanted him to know how to call the xapiri to heal his people. He found a yãkoana hi tree in the forest and told his son: ‘With this tree, you will prepare the yãkoana powder! You will mix it with the odorous maxara hana leaves and the bark of the ama hi and amatha hi trees and drink it!’” (31). Whereas entheogens have been a type of low-impact technology for many traditional cultures, other cultures rely more or solely on dreams. According to Sidarta Ribeiro⁠12, Brazilian neuroscientist, western civilization embraced [another type of] technology and abandoned dreaming. 

       The art of dreaming and the act of narrating and sharing one’s dreams around the campfire has been abandoned since the birth of Capitalism. But we can start to reconstruct the ability to dream about the future by reaching into our ancestral memory, as Ribeiro suggests in a discussion with Aílton Krenak. Krenak⁠13 tells us that the dream space is an institution that admits dreamers as its members. Dreamers can learn different languages, resources, appropriating them to account for themselves and their surroundings (milieu). Subjectivities dream within their world (local), but exist is a shared domain (global). So, local actions impact the global. But it seems that first, we need to decolonize our dream-space. Kopenawa says [white people] sleep a lot but only dream of themselves. And worse, the trend in a technology-driven world is less and less sleep, so that the dream-space is ever more encroached. It will require activism to uphold this dream-space as a domain to dream collectively, toward collective action to create a bond among humans to heal the human-nature relationship. But Krenak concedes that changing the Capitalist Modus Operandi will be very difficult. What he envisions is but a seed to inspire a future existence that can emerge from past frictions.  

       Furthermore, according to the Krenak people cosmovision, Aílton Krenak states⁠14 that human beings do not have a superior destiny, [or a manifest destiny whatsoever, hence their affiliation to other sites of existence]. That is the reason they create affectionate relations with rivers, rocks, plants, other beings, who are more stable than precarious humans. And in order for humans to survive in this moment of deep metastasis of Capitalism, it is necessary to imagine another way of being in the world, another form of existing within our biosphere. Krenak proposes a reconfiguration of the world that does not use Capitalism as its pattern or matrix. If we manage to imagine what this other world can be, we can then transform the very crisis into hope. He says that if we can dream collectively this reconfiguration of ourselves, we might have the chance to be excited about a brand-new circumstance, which may reveal itself as something obvious to us. The new situation might show us that we are using the wrong equipment to live. And that equipment might just be our own body. We then have to imagine another type of body, which the planet would accept. What type of body would the planet welcome instead of spit out? Krenak then returns to the creation of affective alliances with other living beings as an answer.

       Let us then imagine the body not as boundary, but membrane, like cloth offering permeability and opportunity for contamination – good or bad. This is precisely the reason to include solidarity and resistance not as polar opposites, but coarticulated as a possible alternative to the love described in Freud’s drives. We should also consider that only recently we have begun to explore human psychological and physical makeup tied to an estimated 39 trillion microbial cells including bacteria, viruses and fungi living in our gut. This microbiome is 9 trillion more than the cells of our own body. Perhaps, here we can also invoke Guattari’s concept of an ecosophy as a macro-scale ethico-polical drive for the “production of subjectivity, which tends towards an individual and/or collective resingularization…” (34), as opposed to a manufactured massification of subjectivity. In this re-signification of subjectivity, we could imagine ecosophy not as lacking of a unified aim, but that the conditions with which to tackle it are restructured for the “production of human existence itself in new historical contexts.” (34). What Guattari envisions is ecosophy, as “an ethico-political articulation… between the three ecological registers (the environment, social relations and human subjectivity).” (28). This is precisely the type of activism constructing the social body that indigenous communities have lived by, whereas in times of abundance or precariousness. 

       Indigenous capabilities to make kin with animals and plants, to negotiate inter-species alliances, to produce bodies with fluid subjectivities. All such strategies elevated to an art form to overcome the colonial capitalist devastation they have endured for centuries. They construct bodies that invite the multitudes. Their ability to transit between worlds as a form of resilience, like the shapeshifting, accommodating membrane. Cesarino takes us into ontological territory to further understand this dynamic and strategy:

It is only through an understanding of difference, eminently ontological in character, that it becomes possible to understand body-worlds in a post-identity perspective. In this instance, the point is not to understand the ontological argument as a kind of essentialism, but quite the opposite as a means of proliferation, contamination, translation and association of worlds that no longer possess the monopoly of being or truth. (19:57–20:25)⁠15

Cesarino goes on to describe the agency of dissident non-binary bodies, such as queer and trans emerging everywhere against the fascist and nationalistic control of the State, exactly the high-intensity syncretic agency that Danowski & Viveiros highlight about the Amerindians. Amerindians and their engagement with new forms of producing worlds against necropolitics. 

       Cesarino cites conceptions of alliances as processes that always belonged to the shamanic world, such as Isabelle Stengers’ cosmopolitics, Donna Haraway’s inter-specific alliances,  Anna Tsing’s worldly-composites, Bruno Latour’s kinship-making, Gilles Deleuze’s  rhizome…” (22:22–22:50).16 All these concepts of alliances put into practice help us to decelerate neoliberal necropolitics… or else… face the End, such as described by Kopenawa, according to the Yanomami cosmovision of the falling sky: 

When the white people tear dangerous minerals out of the depths of the earth, our breath becomes too short and we die very quickly. We do not simply get sick like long ago when we were alone in the forest. This time, all our flesh and even our ghosts are soiled by the xawara17 epidemic smoke that burns us. This is why our dead shaman elders are angry and want to protect us. If the breath of life of all of our people dies out, the forest will become empty and silent. Our ghosts will then go to join all those who live on the sky’s back, already in very large numbers. The sky, which is as sick from the white people’s fumes as we are, will start moaning and begin to break apart. All the orphan spirits of the last shamans will chop it up with their axes. In a rage, they will throw its broken pieces on the earth to avenge their dead fathers. One by one they will cut all its points of support, and it will collapse from end to end. For this time there won’t be a single shaman left to hold it up. It will truly be terrifying! The back of the sky bears a forest as vast as ours, and its enormous weight will brutally crush us all. The entire ground on which we walk will be carried away into the underworld where our ghosts will become apatari ancestors in their turn. We will perish before we even notice. No one will have the time to scream or cry. The angry orphan xapiri⁠18 will also smash the sun, the moon, and the stars. Then the sky will remain dark for all time… their skill [white peoples’] with machines will not allow them to hold up the falling sky and repair the spoiled forest. (406)

The falling sky cosmovision is imbued with scientific knowledge interwoven with medicinal and artistic practices, ritual, reverence to nature and a comprehension of ontological order in the human-nature relationships. 

       Likewise, Krenak explains that value of holding up the sky as a type of Amerindian science of the commons and activism of traditional peoples. They sing and dance to cause a countermovement to undo a feeling of agony when life cycles seem out of step. This ceremonial action is an example of work performed at community and extra-community levels (various ethnicities coming together in large festivals), where social interspecific relations are at the center of human-nature transformations:

In the cultural heritage given to us by the Taru Andé ritual, our bodies are related to all that is living on Earth. Planetary cycles are also those of our body. The web of life is what gives bodies the power to lift up the sky, when the sky gets very close to the earth, causing a sense of affliction. This phenomenon can be felt by traditional cultures, a type of humanity that can detect it. This phenomenon is felt in the tropics in the beginning of Springtime. [They sing and dance to elicit happiness, which then] lifts the sky, ensuring that changes of Earth and of its health happen during the passage of seasonal cycles on Earth and Sky. This knowledge comes to us from an ancestral memory of a time when people lived in such harmony with those lifecycle rhythms, that they only needed to work a couple of hours a day to sustain themselves. The rest of their time was used for singing, dancing, and dreaming as part of quotidian life. One could go hunting as an extension of what happened in their dream. (1:04:02–1:06:52)⁠19

While indigenous thinking inspires a deep change in how “Anthropos” relate to Nature, by learning about oneself, deep ancestry and the world, ceremonially ingesting intelligent master-plants and dreaming a more unified and diverse humane world collectively, the techno-capitalist mindset thinks the answer to the crisis is individualistic (narcissistic) and always lying somewhere outside of oneself (eschatological). An interesting (solvable) paradox arises from this contrast. Even though the former approach may be considered as too abstract, unrealistic, metaphysical, even mystic, it is a lot more feasible and responsible than boarding an exclusionary rocket to go create life on another planet or to dream of a way out by accelerating blindly toward the catastrophe. 

       To conclude, Earthly indigenous answers to the crisis are inclusive, not only because they accommodate all living beings on our planet, respecting their roles, but also precisely because these multiple beings can coexist. This coexistence means that everything is connected and therefore not always peaceful, it is intensive work that utterly dispel the long-standing stereotype of indigenous peoples as lazy. They possess a masterful skill of communicating and negotiating with other beings. This management of alliances, making kin with otherness is worthy of (re)learning. It is a matter of firm resolution necessary to cut our ties with the death-drives that no longer should exist in the present. Much as we have our zillion microbiomes inside us, there is a multitude out there waiting to make kin with us in a more positive way, in solidarity, congruency and in rhythm to create a new dance with and inside planet Earth. 



1. Besides Crutzen’s brief genealogy of the term “Anthropocene”, J. Carruthers offers a more extensive one: “The first reference to the Anthropocene as a name for the current geological epoch arose in February 2000 during a meeting of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) in Cuernavaca, Mexico. On that occasion, Paul J. Crutzen, the Dutch, Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist, and then Vice-Chair of the IGPB, had become increasingly impatient with his colleagues’ repetitive use of the word ‘Holocene’ and exclaimed, ‘Stop using the word Holocene. We’re not in the Holocene any more. We’re in the…the…the… [searching for the right word]… the Anthropocene!’1 Later that year, Crutzen (b.1933) and Eugene F. Stoermer (1934–2012), limnologist at the University of Michigan who had originally coined the term in the 1980s (in a different context), co-authored the initial scientific publication on the topic in the IGBP Newsletter… In 1864, for example, American diplomat and thinker George Perkins Marsh (1801–1882) published his groundbreaking Man and Nature; in 1873 Antonio Stoppani (1824–1891), geologist and paleontologist, referred to the ‘anthropozoic’ era; while in 1926 Russian geologist Vladimir I. Vernadsky (1863–1945) took note of the ‘noosphere’, the growing human power over the total biosphere.“


2. Chakrabarty’s original text: “…climate scientists posit that the human being has become something much larger than the simple biological agent that he or she always has been. Humans now wield a geological force.” (206). This often-attributed citation to Chakrabarty as in Danowski/Viveiros de Castro p.14, comes from Chakrabarty’s reading of Oreskes, “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” p. 93.  “As Oreskes puts it: ‘To deny that global warming is real is precisely to deny that humans have become geological agents, changing the most basic physical processes of the earth.’”


3. Chronostratigraphic Chart 2022/04. International Commission on Stratigraphy, IUGS. (visited: 2022/04/29)


4. (Excerpt starting at 03:22). My own English translation from Portuguese.


5. The designation “white people” does not mean just skin color. Kopenawa understands “white” as a type of humanity, operating with colonizing force and dominant culture, whose way of life is based on the thoughtless destruction of nature.


6. The field of Psychodynamic Neuroscience offers us a contemporary context for Freud’s drive: “Drives are the psychical representatives of the metabolic and endocrinological imperatives of the body, supporting survival of the individual and reproduction of the species. Mark Solms, Margaret R. Zellner (2012).


7. Clark & Yusoff’s citation of Karl Marx (2004 [1845]: 63). The context for the citation is Marx and Engles critique of Hegelian philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach’s abstract notion of “original” nature as void of human (sensuous) activity.


8. Lecture URL: https:/vimeo.com389504093 (Excerpt from video, starting at:13:19)


9. Lecture URL: (Excerpt from video: 12:53–13:45)


10. The yãkoana powder is a key part of the shamanic initiation rituals and accompanies shamans in their activities. It is produced with the resin from the inner part of the bark of the yãkoana hi tree, which contains a hallucinogenic alkaloid called dimethyltryptamine (DMT). (Albert’s notes in The Falling Sky, p.492)


11. Bolded words, authors’ own emphasis.


12. Lecture URL: (Transcribed excerpts, my own English translation from Portuguese)


13. Lecture URL: (Transcribed excerpts, my own English translation from Portuguese)


14. Lecture URL: (Transcribed excerpts, my own English translation from Portuguese)


15. Pedro Cesarino, in his lecture: Shamanism and Catastrophe in Amazonia: Amerindian People's Thoughts About the End of the World. Weimar 10.12.2019. Lecture URL: :

(Excerpt from video 19:57–20:25)


16. Lecture URL: (Transcribed excerpts, my own English translation from Portuguese)

17. The Yanomami word for the harmful fumes exhaling from industry.


18. The beings living in the extra-dimension in Yanomami world. For the lack of a better term, “spirit” in the western sense.


19. (Excerpt from video: 1:04:02–1:06:52. Transcribed excerpts, my own English translation from Portuguese and at times paraphrased).




Carruthers J. The Anthropocene. S Afr J Sci. 2019;115(7/8), Art. #6428, 1 page.


Cesarino, Pedro N. Shamanism and Catastrophe in Amazonia: Amerindian People's Thoughts About the End of the World. Lecture, Weimar, 10.12.2019.


Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “The Climate of History: Four Theses.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 35, no. 2, 2009, p. 14. JSTOR, Accessed 17 Aug. 2021., p.206


Chronostratigraphic Chart 2022/02. International Commission on Stratigraphy, IUGS. (visited: 2022/04/29)


Clark, Nigel and Kathryn Yusoff: "Geosocial Formations and the Anthropocene". In: Theory, Culture & Society, 2017, pp. 1-21.


Crutzen, Paul J.: “Geology of Mankind.” Nature 415 (2002): 23. 


Danowski, Déborah and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. The Ends of the World. Translated by Rodrigo Nunes. Polity Press, Cambridge, 2017, pp. 14-16, 57-123


Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents (Penguin Great Ideas). UK ed., Penguin UK, 2005, pp. 34-74.


Guattari, Félix. The Three Ecologies. Translated by Ian Pindar and Paul Sutton. Bloomsbury, London, 2014, pp. 15-36. 


Jameson, Fredric. “Progress versus Utopia; Or, Can We Imagine the Future?” Science Fiction Studies, Jul., 1982, Vol. 9, No. 2, Utopia and Anti-Utopia, pp. 147-158. SF-TH Inc.


Kopenawa, Davi and Bruce Albert. The Falling Sky. Words of a Yanomami Shaman. Harvard University Press, 2013, pp.1-545. 


Krenak, Aílton and Anthony Doyle. Ideias para Adiar o Fim do Mundo. Companhia das Letras/Schwarcz, 2019, pp. 1-85/Ideas to Postpone the End of the World. House of Anansi Press Inc, 2020. Online version 1-57.


Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels (2004, 1970 [1845]) The German Ideology, Part 1. New York: International Publishers, pp. 62-64


“New American Bible”. 2002.11.11. The Pentateuch, Genesis, Chapter 1. Retrieved from on 29.8.2021


Tomšič, Samo. The Culture of Death Drive: Capital and the End of the World. Lecture, Berlin, 28.01.2020.


Yusoff, Kathryn. White Utopia/Black Inferno: Life on a Geologic Spike. e-flux journal #97, February 2019, pp.1-3.



Aberth, J. From the Brink of the Apocalypse: Confronting Famine, War, Plague and Death in the Later Middle Ages. Routledge, 2010 (2nd ed.), [2000].

Acosta, Alberto. O Bem Viver. Uma oportunidade para imaginar outros mundos. São Paulo: Editora Elefante/Autonomia Literária, 2016.


Bendell, Jem. Deep Adaptation. A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy. Revised 2nd Edition Released July 27th 2020.


Bihouix, Philippe. L’Age des Low Tech. Vers une Civilization Techniquement Soutenable. Paris: Seuil, 2014.


Chronostratigraphic Chart 2022/02. International Commission on Stratigraphy, IUGS. (visited: 2022/04/29)


Cohen, K.M., Harper, D.A.T., Gibbard, P.L. 2022. ICS International 


Crary, Jonathan. 24/7. Capitalismo Tardio e os Fins do Sono. (Translated by Joaquim Toledo Jr.). São Paulo, Ubu Editora, 2016. 


Emmett, Robert et al. Whose Anthropocene? Revisiting Dipesh Chakrabarty’s “Four Theses”. Munich: RCC Perspectives Transformations in Environment and Society, 2016, p. 106.


"Encyclical Letter Laudato si' of The Holy Father Francis on Care for Our Common Home (official English-language text of encyclical)". Retrieved 20 June 2021.


"Geologic Time Scale." Geology Science - 4 August 2022,


Grove, Jairus V. Savage Ecology. War and Geopolitics at the End of the World. Duke University Press, Durham/London, 2019, pp. 1-28 (Introduction). 


Krenak, Aílton et al. Encontros. Aílton Krenak. 1st ed., Rio de Janeiro, Azougue, 2015.


Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels (2004, 1970 [1845]) The German Ideology, Part 1. New York: International Publishers.


“New American Bible”. 2002.11.11. The Pentateuch, Genesis, Chapter 1. Retrieved from on 29.8.2021

Oreskes, Naomi. “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: How Do We Know We’re Not Wrong?” in Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren, ed. Joseph F. C. Dimento and Pamela Doughman (Cambridge, Mass., 2007), p.93 


Ribeiro, Sidarta. O Oráculo da Noite. A História e a Ciência do Sonho. São Paulo, Companhia das Letras, 2019.


Solms, Mark, and Margaret R. Zellner, 'Freudian drive theory today', in Aikaterini Fotopoulou, Donald Pfaff, and Martin A. Conway (eds), From the Couch to the Lab: Trends in Psychodynamic Neuroscience (Oxford, 2012; online edn, Oxford Academic, 1 Feb. 2013),, accessed 28 Aug. 2022.


Stengers, Isabelle. In Catastrophic Times. Resisting the Coming Barbarism. Translated by Andrew Goffey. Meson Press, Lüneburg, 2015, pp. 17-42. 


Streeby, Shelley. Imagining the Future of Climate Change: World-Making Through Science Fiction and Activism. University of California Press, 2017.


Yong, Ed. I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes within us and a Grander View of Life. Vintage, 2017.


Academic article by Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez. Please cite accordingly.

Ramos-Velasquez, Vanessa. "The Drive Toward the Coming Catastrophe and Its Possible Decelerators". Date of publication 11.May.2023

Aerial view of Aldeia Arara Encantada, Acre, Brazil. A life project to fulfill the dream of the Arara. More infos on the upcoming website 

VIDEO COLLECTION: related to the installation and themes discussed in my written article. This area is frequently being updated with more content.

EN: 2015: Sônia Guajajara dismantles the indigenous prejudice of the PSL senator. Speech by Senator Soraya Thronicke (PSL-MS), about indigenous territories and actions of the Bolsonaro government was completely deconstructed and refuted by indigenous leader Sônia Guajajara.


DE: 2015: Sônia Guajajara baut die indigenen Vorurteile des PSL-Senators ab. Die Rede von Senatorin Soraya Thronicke (PSL-MS) über indigene Gebiete und Aktionen der Bolsonaro-Regierung wurde von der indigenen Führerin Sônia Guajajara vollständig dekonstruiert und widerlegt.

Txãda Shawã, Shawãdawa Man of Medicine, leadership of Aldeia Arara Encantada, Acre, Brazil. Interviews conducetd in 2019.

Welcome to the online extension of the installation,

which premiered at the large-scale exhibit

ZNE! Zur Nachahmung Empfohlen

Uferhallen, Berlin-Wedding 

11.5 – 16.7.2023

This online space is meant as a repository of materials related to the installation. Feel free to browse in all directions. 

Presentation text from the ZNE! exhibit catalogue trilingual artist sheet (EN, DE, PT):

Video documentation of the installation with activations and performative finissage. Click on the image to play the video. RT: 10:45.

On the concept of "The Future is Ancestral," proposed by Aílton Krenak, please access Krenak's interview by Cleiton Campos

Recent Publications of Aílton Krenak, philosopher, educator and activist, leadership of the Krenak People, Brazil. 

– Life Is Not Useful (translated by Jamille Pinheiro Dias & Alex Brostoff. Polity, 2023)

A critique o the commodification of life to extreme levels at the deep detriment of nature.

– Ideas to Postpone the End of the World (translated by Anthony Doyle. Toronto, Anansi International, 2020)

A critique of anthropocentrism that alienates humans from nature.

Urucum seeds have been part of my family's culinary history, a faint link to my indigenous ancestry, whitened by colonialism. In my installation the seeds from the urucum bush, which is so present in every indigenous culture of the low lands in the Americas serve as decolonial element. The Shawãdawa ceremonial chanting (of their Ayahuasca ceremonies), which can be listened to in the immersive multisensorial installation have played an intrinsic role in my reconnection to my indigenous ancestors of Sergipe, Brazil. 

The seeds can be smelled, touched and tasted.

The earth that covers the entire grounds of the installation will be donated to the public for their seeds and home plants and to the gardens of the Impossible Forest, a beautiful and bold work of artist Jared Gradinger across the street at UferStudios.

My work for the 10 weeks of the exhibit, until the finissage, is to keep this earth alive and fertile, so that it can generate life.