Ode to Joy

Wealthy North Europeans who purchase houses and retire in the warmer Southern European or North African countries echo the same economic, demographic and social principles as snowbird migration to the Sunbelt states in the U.S., as well as the enclosed ClubMed holiday and the privileged expat jobs and lifestyles in developing countries. Westerners seem to cling to the belief that the whole world is available to them, to be consumed and transformed to fit their needs. The relationship between the African and European continents epitomizes this neo-colonial relationship.
This piece of work explores from a cynical standpoint how the western world may save itself from global warming and the rise of sea levels by applying these anchored notions. The African continent being less subject to sea rises than Europe, it is physically, ideologically and symbolically appropriated by Europe in an attempt by the latter to save itself – and, hence, to save humankind from its own errors. The materialized border becomes both a barrier, preserving the interior from the exterior, as well as an inhabited frontier, relocating 500 million Europeans along the reinforced African coastline. Hence, both nature and people are equally extracted and resistant to one another.
The proposal aims at questioning Western-centric points of view when dealing with global environmental and social issues, and the inevitable neo-colonialist attitudes that follow. Its scope is not limited to Africa, but may be expanded to the global south as well as to the labouring classes within Western countries themselves. It also questions the reliance on technology and capital in resolving crisis, and humankind’s obsolete dependence on the barrier as a form of preservation.

Chère vieille Europe, cher vieux continent, putain autoritaire,
aristocrate et libertaire, bourgeoise et ouvrière,
pourpre et pomponnée de grands siècles et colosses titubants.
Regarde tes épaules voûtées, pas moyen d’épousseter d’un seul geste,
d’un seul, les vieilles pellicules, les peaux mortes d’hier et tabula rasa...
D’ici on pourrait croire à de la pourriture noble et en suspension.
il flotte encore dans l’air de cette odeur de soufre. Sale vieille Europe,
celle qui entre deux guerres et même encore pendant caressait pour son bien
le ventre des pays de ses lointains ailleurs et la bite à la main
arrosait de son sperme les sexes autochtones.
Noir Désir, «L’Europe», des Visages des Figures, 2001