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Diagrams serve to show a schematic representation of the structure of something: which elements and agents are involved, how they relate to each other, and what dynamics they develop. If the activity refers to how to produce energy, or better said, how to transform something into energy, we can speak about metabolic processes.
This concept describes all biochemical reactions involved in maintaining the living state of the cells and organisms. We can find examples just in us. Human beings are metabolisms: in our bodies, several chemical reactions transform the food we eat into energy. It happens at the microscopic scale, but also, we can also think of it as something macro. In that sense, we can envision Nature as a huge and complete metabolism. In fact, it is one of the most important ideological changes we need: we are metabolism because we are Nature. And, as it can be seen in any diagram, there are many components involved. Humans are just one of the constituent elements needed for the whole process called Nature to be balanced.
This shift of perspective putting Nature in the center, an eco-centralization strategy, is the one Lorenzo Sandoval is pointing at to reflect on how economic and political structures affect territories, analyzing the cultural narratives that crossed them. Just like in his last project on the landscape of his local region, focused in La Manga, La Union and the Mar Menor: The Mar Menor is now a dead sea in the Mediterranean coast because of extensive agroindustry alongside uncontrolled mining and crazy touristification and construction.
Sandoval raises a question: who does hunger affect the most? Historically, hunger has been not solved by the colonialist and developing policies that created a fragile and unbalanced system of production and distribution based on extractivism. During the last century, major plans such as the New Deal in the U.S. or the Quinquennial plans in former Soviet Union were based on increasing productivity, as if the only solution was more energy for more technology for more crops for more food for more people. Massive and extensive agriculture… a process that doesn’t care about the non-human agents involved, and just cares about growth. So, maybe by decentralizing the concept of mankind, we can think of ourselves as one of the hungry organisms on Earth, and start putting other measures into action that answer to Nature’s hunger, in order to act balanced and take accountability for how we occupy the planet.
In order to try to identify alternative sources of nourishment, the artist focuses on two core points. Firstly, he told us “it is necessary to reshape the possible continuities and dissonances between diverse epistemologies, since the problems we are facing are common to all. These problems illustrate how we are a continuation of those preceding us (even if we are absolutely conscious about the differences,) and we are indeed a continuation of nature. And mainly, to facilitate a redistribution of the irradiation points of historically relevant discourses, repositioning power relations and most importantly, recognition of rights.” So, let us know about and learn from Perspectivism, Rhythmanalysis or Sufism.
Secondly, the term “Metabolic rift,” conceived by Karl Marx, is an essential reference for Sandoval, following the reading made by Eco-Marxism and John Bellamy Foster. As explained by Marx Memorial Library, for Marx, the whole nature itself is based on its interdependent processes, of which humans were necessarily a component. In Capital, Volume 3, he declares that capitalism had produced “an irreparable rift in the interdependent process of the social metabolism, a metabolism prescribed by the natural laws of life itself.”
Following other voices, collective feelings and cooperative thinking, Sandoval has drawn up this ideographic diagram based on that proposal of means of production, metabolism and resilience of complex social-ecological systems. Sandoval transforms illustrations and photographs from old economics books into new dynamics, looking for the integration and equilibrium of energies into an active philosophy that reaches a new paradigm: “Redistribute wealth” and “Return energy.”