Read Before Burning (an archive project)

====================WORK IN PROGRESS (at November 2, 2015)======================

Recall the scene in The Day After Tomorrow in the New York Public Library in which Jake Gyllenhaal is burning all the books in order to survive the apocalypse. This scene can be read as an analogy. Think of the old idea of a forest full of knowledge we do not have access too, this forest contains the cure for all the diseases in the world, but the tragedy is the forest is being felled for profit before the discovery is made. In the same way that we don’t know what cures have been lost in this fable, we can ask what “cures” for the climate crisis are out there in the library but might be lost in the act of burning? What do we need to read before tossing into the fire? Fortunately we are not at the point of rapid apocalyptic climate change represented in the blockbuster film, so what ideas do we still have sitting on the library shelves that might help us think otherwise about the current crisis?

This archive pools collective knowledge to think about stories, poems, fantasies and fictions that might have been in those books and briefly reflect on how they imply an alternative future or, at the very least, equip us with some imaginative tools to think about climate change in a different way. The story might not even be about the climate or weather or freezing tidal waves or science. This archive asks participants to bring forward texts that explore less obvious, but nevertheless important aspects of the environmental crisis as represented in printed text.


This archive began life as the second event in the series “Earlwood Farm presents…” at Verge Gallery in 2015 exploring different art forms and their capacity to represent environmental issues and mobilise political thought and action.

If you have an idea for something to add to this archive please contact projects at earlwood farm dot com.