Return Among the Living

We have returned among the living! It took me a few days to recover from our expedition, but here I am back to reality. I will attempt to reflect on specific poignant moments from our time underground. I apologize in advance to the reader: I can only reveal a piece of our experience. The rest must be kept in secret, in any case at least for now.

Here is what I wrote down in my journal, during our down moments while we were down there.

Day one underground

Lunch. We unpack our provisions.  The “Preppers” facebook page had advised us to buy our supplies at Wise Company, a place cherished by hunters, the military and other adventurers. This “Emergency and Outdoor Gourmet Meal Provider” creates these “Dependable, simple and affordable ready-made freeze, dried and dehydrated meals, for emergency preparedness and outdoor use. It’s easy to prepare: just add water and wait 12 to 15 minutes.” After ordering them on the internet, two huge “buckets” were delivered to us from Utah in less than 48 hours. So, we prepared ourselves to eat our first beef stroganoff… in powder form.

Next to us, three people gathered around a small gas water heater, looking at our semi-military-like food out of the corner of their eyes. An alluring odor drifts from their heavy cooking pot. John enters the room, and he playfully laughs at our dehydrated food and invites us to join the group. The first course is Pebre, an onion-based Chilean dish. It’s followed by a delicious meat chili, a delicacy, accompanied by hot bread directly taken out of the oven. A sort-of Esmeralda later brought out the dessert: apples which were “picked this morning out of the garden” she explained.

Here we are, far from finding these “paranoid survivalists,” who believe in the Mayan calendar, we are surrounded by well sensed, intelligent and organized people who are simply on a mission that we are about to face. “What we are doing is conducting a civilization reboot experiment,” explains John. “Our aim? To create a self-sustainable community, where open access and independence are the keys.” December 21st is not only an excuse, but a “test” to strengthen their capacity to live “out of structure” John explains to us. We had met him through a friend who is attracted by “New Age” spirituality, which we’ve expressed in our project. She told us, full of innuendo and mystery: “Go, find John. He knows more about your subject than anyone.”

For the moment, it was clear that he did not know exactly what to think of us. Certainly, he trusted his friend René, who accepted that we go down to meet him. “But I don’t understand much about contemporary art,” he said. It was Vincent’s monographs, his pieces such as AR.09 and So Far, So Good, which finally convinced him. He asked the artist about two or three things, “this story of rétrocipation.» He then goes to find a book: Sensation, the famous exhibition organized by Charles Saatchi, who launched the Young British Artists and its scandal; it was 15 years ago in New York. “I will never forget that exhibition” he admits.  The man remains unclear about his profession.  We gather that he is either an antique dealer or a furniture maker. And that he works with his brother.