Issue 25 of my Crossed Lines newsletter, announcing Homeward Bound, the first online series from a school called HOME.
Written as the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in Europe, this is an essay about the encounter with parental mortality.
Written for a special issue of OEI on Publishing Practices, Publishing Poetics.
Talking about the work of the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective for the tenth anniversary issue of Dark Mountain.
‘I want to tell you a story about Boris Johnson’s heart. There’s a woman involved, but this isn’t what you’re thinking.’
An unfinished list of the roles that art can sometimes play. This comes from the work I did with Riksteatern in 2015-16.
A long read about Sweden, its story of itself and the role this country plays in the political imagination of millions of people who have never been here.
An essay written for This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook (Penguin, 2019).
An essay for Dark Mountain: Issue 15 on the strange hot summer of 2018 and the beginnings of the new climate movements.
Writing about Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society (1971) for Issue 25 of STIR magazine.
Issue 19 of my Crossed Lines newsletter was a report on the first year of this school called HOME.
Written for a special issue of the journal KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination and Preservation Studies.
Written to accompany the announcement of my departure from Dark Mountain after ten years at the heart of the project.
A reflection on my collaboration with the Dutch-Serbian architecture duo STEALTH.unlimited.
An essay written for the programme for the Orange Tree Theatre production of Joe White’s Mayfly.
Issue 16 of my Crossed Lines newsletter was where we first announced the launch of a school called HOME.
A tribute to a writer by whose work so many of us found our bearings. Written for Contemporary Theatre Review.
For AHA! festival in Gothenburg, Alexander Dam, Sara Rousta and I created this performance for two dancers and a writer running out of words.
To mark the publication of SANCTUM, a special issue of Dark Mountain on the theme of ‘the sacred’, I had this conversation with one of the book’s contributors.
This essay was my contribution to the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Centre for Environment and Development Studies at Uppsala University.
This essay on the role of art in modernity and its relationship to the sacred was written for Dark Mountain: Issue 12 – SANCTUM.
An essay for The Precariat, a one-off newspaper published by the organisers of Planet B festival in Peterborough.
An angry, hopeful reflection written in the days after the UK general election of 2017.
When the regular mechanisms of political narration break down, there is a need for something stranger: liminal writing for liminal times.
A short essay based on my experience as an editor at Dark Mountain.
A letter I sent to readers of Crossed Lines, three days after the election of Donald Trump
An essay about the three languages you need to take a project from dreams to reality. Written for Jessie Brennan’s book, Re:development.
My contribution to First Light, a collection of writing that celebrates the life and work of the novelist Alan Garner.
Talking about collapse writing, online and in fiction.
What is different today is that living to grow old has become a reasonable expectation, something we can almost take for granted, rather than a matter of luck.
A review of two books about the Anthropocene by Christian Schwägerl and Gaia Vince.
What does art do when the world is on fire? This was the question that framed the Dark Mountain Workshop project.
This October, as the leaves gather in the gutters of Stockholm, a gang of artists, writers, performers and theatre makers will set off on a journey.
A piece of political science fiction, imagining what it would take for Jeremy Corbyn to make a success of his leadership.
In which I sketch out a set of ideas about the logic of the commons, prompted by conversations in a seminar at the Gothenburg School of Design & Crafts.
Few things I’ve written have been more widely read than this blogpost from the morning after the UK general election of 2015.
On the history of grand projects to categorise the world – and how we end up with the Internet of Toilets.
A short story written for 28 Days, a one-off newspaper published during the UK general election campaign of 2015.
An essay about the role of literature under the shadow of climate change, commissioned by the Free Word Centre, London.
A review of two books that grew out of conversations among the friends and collaborators of Ivan Illich: Grassroots Postmodernism by Gustavo Esteva and Madhu Suri Prakash, and The Future of Development: A Radical Manifesto by Gustavo Esteva, Salvatore Babones and Philipp Babcicky.
In the fifth issue of Crossed Lines, I introduced my new role as leader of artistic and audience development at Riksteatern, Sweden’s touring national theatre.
In 2014, we republished the Dark Mountain Manifesto as a paperback book. This new essay was written to introduce the text, telling the story of how it came about and where it led us.
Wherever you look, to the left or to the right, you will have a hard time finding a politician who doesn’t want to create more jobs. They may argue over the best means to do so, but they would hardly think of asking whether employment as we know it is a good thing.
As shadows lengthen over our whole way of living, we may once more be in need of the kind of storytelling that stalks truths so monstrous they turn our minds to stone if looked at straight on.
The radical thought of Ivan Illich speaks more clearly than ever to our times, I argue, in this review of a new selection of his essays.
For the fifth Dark Mountain book, I wrote this essay looking back on what we’d learned from four years of running the Uncivilisation festival.
An essay for Aeon magazine on information, boredom and how the survivors of the sixties counterculture shaped the story of the internet.
From his rise to prominence in the late 1960s to the last conversations with David Cayley, published as The Rivers North of the Future, Ivan Illich sought to uncover the hidden assumptions on which modern industrial societies had been built.
The Tories did not simply invent a half-baked cover story, they took other people’s ideas for a joyride, then smashed them into the dead end of their own ideology. The challenge now is to salvage what is worth saving of those ideas from the wreckage.
The essay which introduces The Crossing of Two Lines, the book I made with the artist duo Performing Pictures.
Two days of conversations about ‘the commons’ on an island in the heart of Stockholm set me thinking about what it means to reclaim ‘subsistence’ in the 21st century.
In the fourth issue of Dark Mountain, I published this conversation with the Mexican activist and intellectual Gustavo Esteva.
The consequences of an economic crisis can both lead to and be made worse by the crisis of meaning experienced by those whose lives it has derailed. Is it also possible for actions on the terrain of meaning to help stem and even reverse the consequences?
On the experience of creating organisations that are embedded within a community.
On the emergence of a new kind of spatial agent, responding pragmatically to the constrictions and precarities of post-crisis living.
It is the second day of my journey around Europe, a journey in search of resilience, and I am in a park near the centre of Helsinki, asking the locals whether they can help me understand the meaning of sisu, a word that is said to be central to Finnish culture and impossible to translate.
“I don’t think I was given the best careers advice in school,” he says. “There was no future in making things, they told us. If you were bright, you should go to college and study something like law.”
The breadline runs through the middle of the Kallio district of Helsinki. On Wednesdays and Fridays, when the Hursti Charitable Association’s regular food distributions take place, queues build up along the pavement of Helsinginkatu all morning. Once a month, there is a special distribution for students.
The dark shapes ahead are islands. Beyond them the sea shines and the sky seems a soft reflection of its light, and beyond both of these, the faded darkness of the next line of islands. This goes on for hours.
Published in Despatches From the Invisible Revolution (PediaPress). 1. Rioters smash the windows of banks, the drum beats towards war with Iran, protests fuelled by social media take over the streets of another capital city. As 2011 reached its endgame, the cinematic surface of Mike Bartlett’s play, 13, could have been taken from the next day’s headlines.…
Talking with the author of The Spell of the Sensuous and Becoming Animal.
Published in Dark Mountain: Issue 2. I am retracing my steps, trying to work out where I last saw it. In the north of Moscow, there is a park called VDNKh. It was built in the1930s, under Stalin, and then rebuilt in the 1950s as an Exhibition of the Achievements of the National Economy. An enormous site, full of…
Talking with the Hexayurt inventor about the Institute for Collapsonomics and the origins of the Black Elephant.
He is a novelist, an art critic, an essayist, a storyteller, but when I picture him with the tools of his trade, it is holding a scythe.
When Paul and I wrote the Dark Mountain manifesto, our hope was start a conversation. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been encouraged by how far this has spread, and by the range and thoughtfulness (in most cases) of the responses we’ve received.
This is James Wallbank’s story of founding Access Space, based on an interview I did with him for the ‘Steel City’ special issue of PICK ME UP zine, 28 October 2005 James and his friends wanted to make art with computers. But they didn’t have any money. So they decided to see what they could do with…
Published in the ‘Steel City’ special issue of Pick Me Up zine, 28 October 2005 I’m not sure quite how it started. There was a huge empty building in the middle of the city, an old cutlery works. One guy with a recording studio on the second floor, and the rest of it just mouldering away. Then the G8 Justice…
(and get it in the papers and on the radio and telly) Published in the Pick Me Up zine, 24 June 2005 1. START WITH A GOOD IDEA. Try it out on a few people. It’s got to catch their imagination or it won’t work, whatever you do. 2. CLEAR YOUR DIARY. A lot of work in…