“ÁNOMOS, or the lawless land”
“ÁNOMOS, or the lawless land” is proposed as a multidisciplinary research project that, situated in an iconic agricultural area of Central Europe, imagines the environmental implications of the disintegration of the Nomos of the Earth. Parting from an art-sci approach and using different technological tools (orthometric height, climate measuring, taxonomic identification) the project will imagine the Hollabrunn territory without the presence of the sedentary human collectivities.
During the last five years, my art practice has been focused on ethnobiology and wildlife, applied mainly in natural environments. This condition led me to a reflection on ‘displacement’ as a contra-cultural and anti-colonial practice. In the Northwest of Mexico and the US Southwest where I have developed my artwork, Native Tribes had been obligated to abandon their nomadic way of life by both national states along the border. This, in order to establish the right among land in terms of private property, opposed to the Aridoamerican common conception about the land as the owner of its own. Cultures that had resisted adopting ius gentium had been pushed to an intensive process of disappearance. That has had a deep footprint on territory, resulting in the transformation of wild environments in agricultural and industrial lands. This led me to think about agriculture—source of sedentarism—and about the process by which human collectivities take over the territories and transform them. To justify that transformation, they establish a ‘law’ to rule over umwelt. In The Nomos of the Earth (1950), Carl Schmitt describes the global process of appropriation of land as Eurocentric. Following Jared Diamond’s proposal that geographical conditions—fertile soils, availability of ressources, and natural barriers—encouraged the development of expansive and competing nations in Europe, there is a short step to argue that these same conditions contributed to the strengthening and consolidation of the ‘Nomos of the Earth’ in this continent, with the organized distribution of lands and the military dispute of powers among them, before its expansion overseas.
We have every reason to believe that ius gentium is not equivalent to a ‘natural law’. Even so, its establishment as a universal concept justified the capture of territories, human and non-human collectivities under colonial forms turning the world “unwild”. “Ánomos”—in Greek, “without law” or “lawless”—was previewed by Schmitt in his reading of Apostle Paul. For the Christian faith, Ánomos would be the Antichrist rule, so the Empire (katechon) would restrain its appearance. This implicates an imperative of ‘secluding the Nomad’, that could be observed in the different strategies of the colonial powers to restrict the mobility of the different nomadic and semi-nomadic Indigenous groups: missions, reductions, reservations, among others; which in essence are similar to the names we have given to our contemporary natural sanctuaries. These actions had ecological consequences: the intensive use of most of the land, which modified the environment in global terms and that, in the long run, caused the ecological catastrophe in which we find ourselves. So, the question would be if we could be able to think and propose an inverse process founded in an alternative code: an “Ánomos of the Earth” in which land, sea and air, would be freed from the human domain, what doesn’t mean our abandonment of the world but perhaps the assimilation of nomadic ethics. This has deep conceptual implications: to resign to the Polis in spatial terms may implicate a relinquishing of ‘politics’, which doesn’t mean the abandonment of the ‘communitarian experience’ or of any deliberation processes, but to the sedentary ethos. To resign to the Oikos too, may implicate a reformulation of ecology, once that no longer could be talked about a fixed ‘home’ but about spaces of ‘becoming’.