The One End of State: Utopian World Building

By Chanderkiran Thakur –

As people kept moving, mixing and climate change making less and less land habitable, our borders have crumbled. Nation states have collapsed in on themselves from their own need to divide. This workshop put ourselves in this fictional context and asked us to gather as stateless lawmakers to form a new world order.

We first gathered to read together what this world looked like and the conditions that brought us here. We followed this by reading a preamble, a constitutional statement, using this as a provocation to discuss how the world should rebuild itself, what was our name (or lack of), our core values and how does this world looks to ensure not repeating violence of the past. We talked about resisting boundaries, resisting colonial notions of being, respecting indigenous knowledge, criminality without property, what of our identity is needed to reveal our intention, what shared expressions can form new ways of moving in the world.

We then used scrap fabric and craft material to anonymise ourselves. We created images of individual expression, identifiable but concealing our identifying marks. No administrative power holds data of my personal name, appearance, language, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality. From this day we move anonymously, to be treated as human not profile. Only when I am still, surrounded by people ready to accept my living will I reveal myself. After we had created our wearable passports we shared how we had visualised our role and intention in this new world order. It was so inspiring to hear so many reflections on how we want to be seen or hidden in this world.

This workshop combined world building, roleplaying and crafting exercises to explore topics such as national identity, citizenship and mobility. I especially wanted to use a fictional context to this exercise so that a distance was created from our own border encounters and experiences. I did want us to have to reveal or share violent border encounters or history in order for us to discuss and explore these concepts.

Lastly, we compiled text alongside our creations to articulate our frontier without borders. We reflected how cathartic it was to exercise these ideas of utopia and different ways of being. A space to discuss what ‘free borders’ could look like that isn’t a distressed conversation at 2am at a party. Below are some snippets from the workshop:

We gather in refuge from a dark history. Within the remains of dividing infrastructure and linear towers we sing and dance, telling stories of how the world came to be. We share mythologies and act as the blind, the extinct, the survivor, in order to remember and direct our future. We embody knowledge and teach others, we are open to change. Fluid in nature, with nature. We are reactive, this new home is a response and we will fail many times.

In my image I am not known. In data I am not. We see each other while not having to reveal. I do not have to state my name until I feel my being is complete, my soul still, until I have found my place among the multitude. We hide parts, reveal others.

Nothing is private, nothing is owned. There is no crime against property. We share and gossip, I am a gossip to others. I am steered by my peers. My emotions are given space, my pain is listened to and I only need to accept burden when I am ready.

Our frontiers are fluid. They move with water, with tide and flood, with migration and disaster. Biological boundaries form ways of knowing, opportunities to be local. We are home in our effort to save species and restore ecological balance. Stewardship is our citizenship.

Identification is our art, what we share, receive and make. We carry them with us, collections of others’ knowledge, tokens to pass on to another who needs it. We fill bags with these expressions, weaving stories from their origins, forms and all the strings that connect them.

Thank you to everyone who came and participated in the workshop who co-created with such joy and inspiration. There will be more to come!