2020, Thu, Mar 19

Carrier Bag Fiction

With Sophia Al-Maria, Dorothee Elmiger, Victoria Sin, Hito Steyerl and others

Sophia Al-Maria | Beast Type Song, 2019 (video still)

Sophia Al-Maria | Beast Type Song, 2019 (video still)

Stories of hunting and killing suggest that only heroic acts by individuals can form the framework for great stories. In her 1986 essay The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, the visionary author Ursula K. Le Guin presents a feminist story of technology that centres the collective sustenance of life and takes narrative as a tool for world-making.

According to this alternative theory of human evolution, the primary inventions of humankind were not phallic weapons of domination and hunting, but “carrier bags”, humble containers: a basket of wild oats, a medicine bundle, a net woven from one’s own hair. The bag of stars. In her essay, Le Guin proposes a departure from linear, conflict-centered heroic stories and outlines a gatherer's narrative practice of receiving and holding different worlds of imagination, in which dualisms such as light and dark, female and male, good and bad dissolve. For in the words of Donna Haraway, who introduces Ignota's new volume, ‘It matters what worlds world worlds’.

The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction has now been published with an introductory essay by Donna Haraway and illustrations by Lee Bul by Ignota Books as the inaugural edition in Terra Ignota, a new series that shows us the ways: to the map’s edges and in which a map is made. The editors Sarah Shin and Ben Vickers curate a program of writers, artists and thinkers exploring this subversive text.

With Sophia Al-Maria, Dorothee Elmiger, Victoria Sin, Hito Steyerl and others, curated by Sarah Shin and Ben Vickers

In cooperation with Ignota Books