Posted on behalf of the Rare Earth Catalog group:

The Rare Earth Catalog will present a collection of images and short texts that illuminate the racism, classicism and eco-cidal requirements of industrial-scale life. This collection will explore the latent social and political opportunities that are emerging in the anthropocene, an era of human-induced climate change that is in the process of reconfiguring all life on earth. The catalog will pull together examples of resistance and devastation, as well as tools aimed at challenging and transforming the status quo. We aim to generate a lucid and fearless accounting of the entangled elements constituting our precarious lives on this planet.

The original Whole Earth Catalog seized on a moment in time when many in America were seeking to find ways of going ‘back to the land’ in order to create new forms of life ‘outside’ of the dominant capitalist system. The Rare Earth Catalog shifts away from utopian visions of opting-out, embracing instead strategies for making life in the face of an increasingly grim present.

Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we live in an era where extraction and radioactive storage and seepage are just as much a part of daily life as the products they make possible. In the global North, a deep-seated culture of denial insulates us from the devastating consequences of our everyday actions. We are asked to believe that so long as we recycle, print double-sided, or “think green,” then we’re doing what we can. An economic order built around the promise of ‘endless growth’ actively traffics in alarmist narratives of scarcity, justifying the reign of the market and its supposedly impartial distribution of resources.

As a result, there is an ongoing effort to capture whatever remains of the not-yet commodified resources that sustains so much of the life on earth, turning them into inputs for production. One of these inputs, which factors into the production of a wide range of advanced technologies, is a family of minerals called the “rare earth metals.” They are not actually rare in their occurrence on earth, but are costly, complicated, and radioactive to process. We name our catalog after these materials not to single out the extraction of this one resource as somehow worse than others, but to foreground narratives of manufactured scarcity that are so crucial to maintaining the existing economic order.

The Rare Earth Catalog will be a repository of tools: from the critical, to the conceptual, to the practical, that can help us resist, rework, redefine, and remember the interconnections of our socio-ecological present. In pursuit of new ways of seeing, and ultimately, more sound, just ways of life, we are looking to describe who and what have produced this particular moment on earth, and why this moment matters.

We will develop the research group this summer, in preparation for the first issue of the Rare Earth Catalog. The Catalog will be a broadsheet magazine, published in the Fall as an intervention on and resource for the climate mobilization happening in New York City. The first issue will be small, and it will grow from there.

 

Page from the Whole Earth Catalog.

Page from the Whole Earth Catalog.

How to contribute:

We are seeking collaborators to help us envision and ultimately produce the Catalog. We are also interested in receiving contributions of (short) texts and images that connect specific examples of climate-change related politics and processes to a wide range of themes, such as:

Living On: land access, housing, commoning, sovereignty, dispossession…

Putting Away: purity/waste, sacrifice zones, containment, storage/seepage…

Holding On: preserving, protecting, militarizing, privatizing, remembering, honoring…

Making Use: extraction, exhaustion, employment, bricolage…

Fixing Up: repair, restoration, mitigation, adaptation, geo-engineering…

Creating new: markets, politics, movements, collectives, technologies, imaginaries, lifeforms, geological epochs…

Using Less: efficiencies, slowdowns, refusals, strikes, sabotage, degrowth, rewilding,…

Running Out: scarcities, enclosures, escapes, extinctions…

Betting On: speculation, debt, forecasting, risk-taking, financializing…

 

(This list of themes is a starting point. We imagine the project to reconfigure considerably through our collaborations.)

For more information about the project, to discuss joining our collaboration or contributing materials, please email rareearthcatalog@gmail.com.

There will be a general brainstorming session in New York City July 10.

wholeearth