‘A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which humanity is always heading.’
EMERGE(ncy) PARTY is inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s work on the social meaning of disaster.
In her book, A Paradise Built in Hell, Solnit writes:
'Imagine a society where money plays little or no role. Where people rescue each other and then care for each other. Where food is given away. Where life is mostly out of doors in public. Where the old divides between people seem to have fallen away and the fate that faces them, no matter how grim, is far less so for being shared. Where much once considered impossible is now possible or present and where the moment is so pressing that old complaints and worries fall away. Where people feel important, purposeful, at the centre of the world. It is by its very nature unsustainable and evanescent, but like a lightning flash, it illuminates ordinary life and like lightning it sometimes shatters the old forms.'
Solnit writes about the Mizpah Café, a spontaneously launched community centre that took the form of a kitchen, feeding two to three hundred people a day in the wake of the 1906 San Francisco earth quake. Solnit can find three possible definitions of the Hebrew word Mizpah:
1. An emotional bond between those who are separated either physically or by death
2. The Old Testament Watchtower where the people were accustomed to meet in great national emergencies
3. Symbolizing a sanctuary and place of hopeful anticipation
If we thought people would know what it meant, we might have called this project the Mizpah Café.
We liked this Long Read from the Guardian and have had great responses to it from the young artists we have shared it with so far: How will the world emerge from the coronavirus crisis