Rabbit Island Project: R.I. School (2017-18)

developed together with Julieta Aguinaco during a stay on Rabbit Island, Lake Superior, Michigan. The fresh water cephalopod could be an animal that lives in the depths of Lake Superior. It would have eight inky legs, a giant head, a glimmering opacity and the skills to survive in waters with a very low oxygen level. Its shape could be amorphous; radiating with pink, blue and yellow colors as the cephalopod takes on the role as the over-arching umbrella for a small but vibrant community of corpuscles that constitute the shapeless blob. Creatures crawling, swimming and climbing through and over and into one another, sharing space and place without appropriating it. There is no pecking-order here, no room for dichotomies, no hierarchy. This lot can become anything and commit to everything.
At present, this taxon of cephalopods does not exist. Nor in Lake Superior, nor in any other fresh water pool in the world. However, millions of years ago, the area where Rabbit Island is located used to be a shallow sea, with salt water. Who can claim then that there was never an octopus seen on the shores of Lake Superior? As the way the not-yet-existent fresh water cephalopod would live, with and through multiple other organisms, could construct an image of what a possible future world could be, it might be interesting to summon it to life. Although, evolution is more complex than a re-occurence of a species; something can never become ‘again’, but it can grow beyond itself.

During our stay on Rabbit Island, we founded R.I. School – an attempt at cross-species conversations. We prodded the island, the lake and its residing species to share their knowledge and ideas on how to construct more livable worlds. We organised lectures, conversations, reading groups, workshops and walks with the nonhumans present, though all of them refused to give any straightforward answers.

R.I. Session #0: Trying to converse (days 1-8)/domestic labour. Main camp.
R.I. Session #1: Walk around the lake (or the island). Rabbit Island.
R.I. Session #2: Conversations with humans (invited guests). Amphitheater.
R.I. Session #3: Cross-species conversation. Sarah’s speculations. Tree platform.
R.I. Session #4: Dear Lake. Cephalopod reading (no answer). Dinghy.
R.I. Session #5: The island doesn’t want us here (upcoming storm). Main camp.
R.I. Session #6: Significant Otherness/Reading of The Companion Species. Tree platform. Link to video R.I. Session #6.
R.I. Session #7: Dear Island (no answer). Woods.
R.I. Session #8: Reading of Conversation With a Stone. Poem by Wisława Szymborska.
R.I. Session #9: On lacking the sense of taking part (Antonia’s comments). Main camp.
R.I. Session #10: Dear Lycopodium. Julieta’s questions (no answer). Lycopodium ally.
R.I. Session #11: Art has nothing to claim here/Who do you think you are? Everywhere.
R.I. Session #12: To claim to know/naming is claiming (the order of things). Berg’s cabin.
R.I. Session #13: To claim to know/naming is claiming (the order of things). Woods.
R.I. Session #14: To claim to know/naming is claiming (the order of things). Sauna.
R.I. Session #15: Foul nature/Leaving the island. Mainland.