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New Survivalism: The Rewilder (Futures)


Commissioned for the 2014 Istanbul Design Biennial, New Survivalism uses designed objects and storytelling to explore the survival strategies of a disparate set of protagonists, each with a very different take on what they “need”. The project consists of the survival kits of these protagonists, containing a mixture of found and designed objects, and accompanied by short narrative texts. Conventional survival kits address only the bottom of Abraham Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs (the physiological and safety needs of food, water, shelter etc.). Rather than replacing such kits, the alternatives proposed here represent the higher concerns of our protagonists.

With this protagonist we wanted to explore what pushing the individualism of survival might look like. This protagonist believes the only way to ensure survival is to become a hunter gatherer. Their kit contains drug therapies and exercise equipment to train themselves to eventually survive without the need for an actual survival kit.

The following short text accompanied the kit.

The Rewilder
The lactose intolerance was a convenient start. Amazing really. Anatomically modern humans have only drunk milk in adulthood since we’ve been farmers. Our genes somehow adjusted to the prevalence of dairy products. But I’m going back further than that. It’s the only way. To return to the to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. “Lifestyle”. Pah! It’s not a lifestyle. It’s nature. It’s how life’s meant to be lived. We’ve just been led astray.

I’m turning technology against itself. Using it to wean myself off. Going feral. Healing my 10,000-year-old wounds. When there’s no one left to trust but yourself you have to work on the basis of immediate-returns. Not shacked up in a bunker with a year’s supply of beans. Not like those part-timers. The paleo-dieters, weekend-survivalists, armchair-primitivists. This is no hobby. The IGF-1 gene therapy proved that. $30,000 and eighteen months of injections so far, but it’s working. I used to bench just over my own body weight. Now I’m up to twice that. The olfaction and follicular therapies are progressing and I’m about a year away from independence. This is my survival kit and when the time comes, I leave here empty-handed but fully prepared.