PEST TO POWER | NATASHA TONTEY
“Who owns the future? Who benefits from the idea of the future? “
Pest to Power (2019) by Natasha Tontey is an antispecist manifesto in which cockroaches are presented as a possible model of non-human animal life from which to learn the survival dynamics of the species. Pest to Power is a multidisciplinary project and installation that includes a publication that collects texts and images on inter-species reciprocity between human and non-human animals; a video and a performative reading. Natasha Tontey wonders about chances of surviving of human and non-human animal species, giving life to an interspecies dialogue that connects humans and cockroaches so that the former learn from the latter the dynamics that have led them to survive extinction over the millennia: the performance is an act of imitation of the behavior of the cockroach that has always been avoided by man, preferably ignored but perceived as threatening. Considered a pest species and source of disgust, Tontey places the cockroach at the center of a new system of sustainable values, far from the anxiety of hyper sterilization and correctness of capitalist society and from any form of humanism. The installation and the performative reading translate the relationship and complex and fragile interactions between human and cockroach into images.
Interested in narrative fiction as a method of investigation, Tontey proposes to embrace the path of cockroaches that allows humans to acquire sustainable behaviors in building the future.
What we, human, can learn from the cockroach? What cockroach can learn from humans? What is the method of reciprocity for human and nonhuman agency? Could an artistic practice addresses this issue? As the manifesto of Xenofeminism argues, the future is not only for the Child, but it is also a space for nonhuman being. When we start thinking less anthropocentric, we think more ecological. The future is cockroach.
©Natasha Tontey, Pest to Power, 2019
courtesy the artist