Free The Land (FTLHQ) is an evolving collaborative project initiated in 2013 by Jesse Sanes. A media diary of environmental impressions natural and domestic, it has manifested in print, collage work, soundmap contributions, guerrilla internet performance, live electronics, sculpture and immersive audio and visual installation. In equal measures exploratory and earnest, FTL pulls field recordings, found material, and digital media into a compost of synthesis and free manipulation.
How do bodies relate to habitat, to land?
How do plants relate to bodies?
How does physical space relate to cyberspace?
Ever since the inauguration of the project in 2013 Free The Land has evolved towards a greater degree of collectivity and collaboration. FTLHQ is the collective aspect of Free The Land in full bloom.
This summer, we started a chat server on Discord (digital distribution platform) with a handful of people who had worked on previous projects, but also invited new faces who had interacted with the FTL instagram account and were on a similar vibe. The chat group grew into a small cybervillage, a tribal refuge from the Feed that grows increasingly toxic and alienating. A place to discuss theory, share memes, vibe to music and cultivate the second branch of FTLHQ, namely, the AFK headquarters in downtown LA.
FTL agents acquired the keys to Coaxial Arts on Sunday September 29th in advance of our month long residency during October. We brought in material for our sculpture pieces and video installations as well as couches and a coffee table, fully intent on making the space not just our exhibition but our base of operations; our headquarters. During the week leading up to the opening, we congregated with friends, artists, activists and punks, some of whom we knew from the meat-world and some whom we had previously only communicated with on Discord. Humans from widely different backgrounds were put into contact. Ideas outlined prior to the start of the residency were thrown into a compost heap of new input, archival material and new perspectives on earlier ideas, and from this process a new biodiversity of ideas sprouted, to materialize at the opening/open house on october 6th.
Free the Land takes the form of a vernacular, a shared language, a frame of reference that evolves through usage. We talk about plants, then land, then housing, then find ourselves talking about our bodies, then spatial confines then back to land. We build a model of a north east LA living room and a model of a Redwood tree sit and realize they are more similar than different.
Our interests, our habitats, our passions and our fears are all lines in the topography of our alienation – as we are subjugated to capitalism, that which we desire (nourishment for our minds and bodies, freedom to pursue our passions) is withheld from us, and that which we have (a safe home, soft grass under our feet and clean air) is always at risk to be taken away. Perhaps our knowledge of our alienation from ourselves and each other (by another word – our class consciousness) allows us to understand our alienation from the land, the land that has been forcibly alienated from us. When simply living in a Redwood tree is a form of resistance, perhaps the same applies to unapologetically loving the community we inhabit. Perhaps planting seeds and cultivating a garden can be a fertile soil for new friendships and solidarities to sprout from.
This residency program is supported by grants by The Department of Cultural Affairs City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County Arts Commission