‘There is no limit to the number of reparative attempts we can make at retelling the story, at remaking ourselves.’
Earth A.D. 2 (2023) is an expansive body of work by artist Uma Breakdown, spanning immersive installation, writing and video games, and draws on their research into ongoing collective repair. The work explores the structures and history of Gothic narratives, and their creative relationships to time, space, identity and social relations. At the same time it’s a science fiction story about trans* solidarity and care across time and space, which is repeatedly told, distorted, translated, lost, and reinvented.
The gallery can be thought of as a video game ‘save room’, where players can rest, or hold useful items collected along the way: a quiet, dark, storage area of gifts, kept in a high bell tower. The space contains collections of sculptures carefully piled up: things that look like maps, parts of video games, and projections that drift across the space.
Fiction allows us to explore new understandings of who we might be and how we might live. Through its explorations of extreme experiences from fear, horror, and violence, to passion, love, and tenderness, the Gothic genre offers us new understandings of care and intimacy through the intensity of these emotions. A frequent motif is the coffin, viewed as a tool for resurrection or repair, rather than an endpoint. Uma explores the possibilities of how these narrative devices can keep a person alive indefinitely: sleeping, awoken occasionally to share old wisdom or absorb new knowledge, and existing across time on a scale unimaginable to our perception of a human lifespan. With this altered relationship to time and reality, this being becomes an oracle, acting as an anchor to a different sort of community -- one committed to building on the best parts of each previous generation, rather than doomed to repeat their worst mistakes.
Uma links this idea with the continuous mutual support and care that has to exist within the trans* community. They refer to this as radical solidarity, an act of looking out for someone without having to know who they are. Elements of our histories can be destroyed, but collective respect and care mean that the generational knowledge and histories will endure.
Uma Breakdown, Earth A.D. 2 (2023) & Low Estate (2023). Commissioned by Wysing Arts Centre, FACT and QUAD with public funding from Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council.