Expedition of the Fantastical explores the cultural implications of exploration and colonization in the Victorian Era, and postulates the impact of future colonization of Mars. From a settler viewpoint, I explore personal and political narratives, culture, beliefs and ideas about our identities. I have created a dialogue and a fluidity between drawings referenced from Victorian archival photos and Martian landscapes inspired by science fiction and current space exploration. With the underpinning of decolonization, my aim is to encourage the viewer to think about the implications of colonization on humanity and apply this toward consideration of when/how we look to interplanetary settlements.
We are at a juncture in history where the intersectionality of the Covid 19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests, and climate change activism is the impetus to find an alternative approach to governance and distribution of wealth and resources. Capitalism’s mandate to have infinite growth in a finite environment undermines the integrity of systems necessary for life. It has created a future where one possible outcome is to colonize Mars.
Colonization during the Victorian era affected all aspects of the communities that it touched, with loss of tradition and cultural practices through assimilation and exploitation. Today the influence of colonialism on resources and people highlights the peril of carrying these colonial constructs into future civilizations.
Similar to how monarchs and business scions funded explorers in previous centuries, the USA’s NASA is hiring corporations such as Space X and Blue Origin to build and launch rockets to the International Space Station, Mars, and the moon. The Artemis colonies on the moon will be funded and overseen by Jeff Bezos, called out by Amnesty International for ill treatment of employees. As well, Elon Musk’s company, Tesla, has come under fire for worker abuse during the current pandemic. Similarly, in Victorian England, workers had no rights and were subjected to unhealthy conditions, low wages and ill treatment. One day, when we travel to Mars, will we continue to live under the oppressive colonial constructs of the past, and indeed the present, or will we move beyond to a new way of being that is respectful, socially conscious and mutually exclusive?