Our things contain spirits, taming them and putting them to use. But they also draw us to unruly places. How do worlds emerge at the confluence of containment and chaos?
In the nineteenth century, Dahomean aristocrats poured European liquor in rituals to honor ancestors. Bottle fragments excavated in palaces once contained wine, gin, rum, and bitters from various European nations. With the "Scramble for Africa" around the corner, these bottles held a warning and a promise, gesturing towards an emerging colonial world.
Russians learn to repurpose containers rather than throwing them away—and new forms of democracy are imagined in this work of recycling and reuse. But they see democracy’s wildness in mounting
piles of discarded trash. How has recycling become the opposite of freedom?
Drugs for wakefulness and sleep tame contemporary American bodies for the iron cage of ever-pressing work and school schedules. Such drugs change our human nature. We have yet to learn whether our bodies and spirits can maintain the worlds dreamed up by pharmaceutical merchants.
The point of a revolution is to do away with the status quo. Can the spirit of revolution be contained in a commercial souvenir? In Mexico, the Zapatistas have determined to walk that tightrope between commodification and revolt.
What spirited worlds and world-making spirits emerge from ordinary things?