PARADIGM x ADIDAS, LIFE BEFORE
If something was to wake up a species from a downward evolutionary spiral, you wouldn’t want it to be climate change. Because that is a very firm planetary reset button. And by the time climate equilibrium has been tipped, it is too late to avoid losing and never getting back ecosystems, weather, landscapes, creatures and plants this species takes for granted.
But here we are.
Facing the risk of survival on an increasingly uninhabitable Earth.
Climate change is more than a series of cascading problems to be solved. It represents an existential opening towards real chaos, renewal and recovery. Living with climate awareness is a hack into an initiatory experience, not a fixed trajectory for success or failure.
Mark Suciu formulates a query in the introduction to the Life Before book: “how can we explore the idea of a life before a weaponized climate starts to change our relationship to the world?” This question is examined by a group of fourteen artists and writers - friends of the publisher Paradigm - in the book Life Before_.
Paradigm has been making artist lead publications and apparel since 2014. The initiative works through a slowly expanding community of people from very different walks of life and with equally diverse forms of aesthetic expressions. From photography, painting, essays, interviews, fashion, and poetry, the aspiration of Paradigm has been to hold open space for popular culture to encounter radical ideas. There are thirty-five of such projects and this is one of the last.
Adidas have partnered up with Paradigm to create a publication for artists and writers to express themselves freely on matters of ecological unravelling. What formed is an assembly of citizens’ expressions. An incomplete guide that might direct towards hidden paths beneath the dominant battlegrounds.
It is natural and ok to feel anxious about the many forms of devastation brought about by the hands of the powerful. To feel unfit in a world where information systems steer everything they encounter to become consumers - the real world paperclip AI - could be a sign of mental health. To be unsettled about the ways more and more technological capabilities create growing levels of ecological instability and uncertainty - a high-tech new dark age - also seems reasonable. It is not unusual or wrong to feel bad about the larger predicaments of the present day, but it is also not enough.
It is important to know that these reactions are shared by many. If this is a first encounter for you with attempts at highlighting the emotional consequences of climate change, this project should be seen as one of many. There are growing communities of people who are sharing emotional intelligence across the world. Inventing psychological methods, therapeutic approaches, rituals, organizations and pushing for positive climate actions in more ways than can be summarized here. Good places to go further is to dive into sources such as Gen Dread, Heated, Hot Take, We can Fix It, Eco-Anxious Stories , and Good Grief.
We believe it is through our capacities to work with the emotions rising in us in these years and decades that important answers to questions of sustainability, equity and resilience will come through action. The sources above have already started this work and gone far in a very short amount of time. Hopefully they will continue to open up spaces for identifying and working with climate emotions. What Life Before has to offer in this regard is an aesthetically ambiguous plot - a starting point with multiple histories and possible aftermaths.
by Aslak Aamot Helm
- 8.5” x 11.5” / 128 pages
- Cover blind emboss
- Full color offset printing
- CD die cut
- Introduction by Mark Suciu
- Afterword by Theophilos Constantinou
- ISBN 978-1-7354450-5-2
- First edition of 1500
- Printed in Germany
- Contributors Anthony Jamari Thomas, Zohra Opoku, Reginald Sylvester II, Kim Giannone, Marie Tomanova, Maxwell Deter, KC Ortiz, Radamiz, Sam Lindenfeld, Onyx Collective, Mark Suciu, Aslak Aamot Helm, Elvia Wilk, James Bridle and Nick Hakim