A film series by the Institute of Queer Ecology
Voiced by Mykki Blanco and Danny Orlowski
Launching May 2020 | Commissioned by DIS for release online at DIS.ART
Prelude: Serotiny (05:25 minutes)
Episode 1: Grub Economics (14:28 minutes)
Episode 2: Liquidation in the Pupal Stage (12:40 minutes)
Episode 3: Emergence (14:50 minutes)
Metamorphosis is a 3-part proposal by the Institute of Queer Ecology to restructure how the world is imagined and how it operates today. These three stages are modeled after the life cycles of holometabolous insects: bugs who undergo a “complete metamorphosis” where the organism fully restructures itself to adapt to its changing needs and ensure its survival.
Relying on this metaphorical transformation, IQECO aims to help catalyze a planet-wide transformation from the prevailing extractive relationship with the earth to one characterized by regeneration and care: a shift from making “nature” subservient, to working with the natural world and, in that process, remaking ourselves and our relationships—to each other, and the world.
Metamorphosis recasts the main agents of the environmental crisis as the global industries that profit from products they know are toxic, while simultaneously forcing reliance on them. In this way, the film asserts that capitalism forces us into a kind of perpetual larval stage, an incessant need to consume and accumulate resources, in a way that resembles how caterpillars rapidly increase their weight ten-thousandfold in less than three weeks.
When a caterpillar enters its cocoon, it releases enzymes that dissolve most of its bodily tissues, liquifying itself to be rebuilt. Liquidity, of course, has an economic association, referring to assets being made liquid in times of crisis, or growth.
The organism in the film reconstitutes itself in the specific form of a gynandromorphic swallowtail butterfly, an exceptionally beautiful insect that simultaneously exhibits male and female patterning (especially evident in this species because of sexual dimorphism). Through CGI rendering, this insect is reanimated from a pinned specimen in the butterfly collection at the University of Florida. Visually, this animates a metaphor for a warm, blurry, queer future, and poetically speculates on how to get there in a long-form video manifesto. Building off of José Esteban Muñoz’s notions of a Queer Utopia, lessons learned through Emergent Strategy (adrienne maree brown), and the concept of the Capitalocene (as articulated by Jason W. Moore, Raj Patel, Naomi Klein, and many others), Metamorphosis presses us to imagine with more ambition what could emerge from this multifaceted crisis.
Queerness, we claim, is a strategy as important as imagination, rooted as it is in a history of establishing alternative worlds of mutual support and care that bloom in the spaces underneath and between this one.
A body breaks down and a new one forms from the same material.
This change comes from within.
The Institute of Queer Ecology (IQECO), is a collaborative, decentralized organism that works to imagine and realize an equitable multispecies future. With programming that ranges from exhibitions, artwork, and publications to direct community actions, IQECO lays the groundwork for a (bio)diverse utopia.
DIS.ART is a streaming platform for entertainment and education—edutainment. DIS enlists leading artists and thinkers to expand the reach of key conversations bubbling up through contemporary art, culture, activism, philosophy, and technology. Every video proposes something—a solution, a question—a way to think about our shifting reality.
Metamorphosis is additionally supported by a Knight Arts Challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.