© Julian Rosefeldt

Ursula K. Le Guin's little booklet The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction proposes nothing less than a completely new reading of the writing of history. The very first tool mankind devised was probably not a knife to kill or skin with, but a vessel - perhaps made of leaves or clay shaped with the hands and dried in the sun – to carry water or gather berries. Our ancestors may have hunted a mammoth once every few months, but they collected, transported, and stored something in a variety of vessels and pouches day in and day out. Nevertheless, the entire cultural history is dominated by stories of hunting, fighting, war – because it is the more exciting, entertaining motif. The basket used to gather and transport medicinal herbs or berries; the bowl used to store liquids; the cloth-laced pouch used to transport an infant – all of these vessels are no good for the male-dominated action narrative of written history. Le Guin asks the provocative question: what might an alternative to this narrative look like? Perhaps it would a narrative based not on the bone that became a weapon, but on the unifying, perpetual, and contemplatively deployed tool of a carrying vessel?

Julian Rosefeldt, Antwerp, 13 May 2022