“It reminds us we are connected to the other beings on this planet—and that we inherit our ancestors’ decisions and future generations will live in a world designed by our actions.”
As a curator and an editor, Clémence Seurat investigates the fields of reflection and action related to political ecology. In 2014-15, she was a member of Bruno Latour’s research laboratory in arts and politics based at Sciences Po Paris (Speap) and participated in the conception of The Theater of Negotiations and the curation of associated conferences and resources. She co-founded the collective COYOTE and the 369 Editions publishing house. Within the Sciences Po médialab, Seurat designs programs and edits content for FORCCAST.
Q: At iMAL, you collaborated with DISNOVATION for a series Post Growth Toolkits, which encompasses a series of video interviews and a board game. What was the concept behind these works?
A: The idea was to expand the research DISNOVATION started during a fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. First, we collected, discussed, and gathered concepts, theories, stories, and initiatives that seem relevant to us not only to elaborate a critical perspective on growth but to imagine our future outside of this paradigm. Secondly, we developed artistic proposals in order to share our research in both a stimulating and playful way.
Q: What interested you about the concept of post-growth?
A: The absurdity of a never-ending growth has been visible for decades through a series of catastrophes on a planetary scale, from climate change to the sixth mass extinction, from deforestation to air pollution. The degradation of our environment requires another way of inhabiting the world and relationships that aren’t based on exploitation.
Q: How did you decide on who should speak in the interviews and what topics they should cover?
A: We identified people who would offer an interesting practical or theoretical insight to the project and then we invited them to present their work—to introduce concepts and themes they are developing—in a brief and straightforward way. We wanted them to be concise and short, like video postcards. Some interviews are only recorded while others took place on a stage in front of an audience. As part of the series of events we curated at La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris, for example, I interviewed the French anthropologist Dusan Kazic who invited us to reconsider production as the overriding principle of our relationship to the world. This conversation was very instructive because it forced us to take a critical approach towards our own research.
Q: What else did you learn through the interviews?
A: One concept that is very important for me is the 7th generation principle introduced by Rose O’Leary. It is both very wise and simple: anytime that someone makes a decision, they should think about its impact seven generations into the future. It’s a principle that is often attributed to the indigenous peoples of North America. What I like about it is that it implies a very careful, thoughtful, and respectful relationship to the others—humans and non-humans—in space and time. It’s a very pragmatic approach and a way of paying attention to the consequences of our own actions. It reminds us we are connected to the other beings on this planet and that we are connected to our ancestors and the future generations—we inherit our ancestors’ decisions and future generations will live in a world designed by our actions. For this reason, the 7th generation principle is powerful politically and philosophically as it reclaims a long-term vision for action and care.