Absence, occupied landscapes, post-colonial architecture, unreconciled invasion, possible futures, after the end of the world, Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Tarkovsky’s Stalker.
Roadside Picnic is a new commission for Prototype by artist-filmmaker Robert Nugent. If it were a big-budget science-fiction film, it would probably be prefaced with these kind of schlocky titles:
In the distant future, after the collapse of the seasons, systems and social codes, the world’s remaining scientists began to venture into a southern continent that had many names throughout history.
In studying what was left, the post-collapse archaeologists believed they could find the beginning of the end.
Instead, they found evidence of curious architectural forms near fossilised roads, across the interior of an ancient landscape.
These relics were once called…
…roadside picnic stands.
What would future scientists make of our world today? With a Herzogian voiceover, Nugent has made the present strange and new and absurd. The earth and sky and plants in this work seem to be speaking a secret: we can change the ending of our collective story.
Who’s writing this? I am. Who am I? Like you, I’m a small person stuck at home, feeling faraway from the world, with a suddenly different idea of the future. I’ve been enjoying the livestreams and curated lists that have emerged since we all went into self-isolation. Now, as creative production and artistic infrastructure changes under lockdown, we need fresh ways to access art that’s made especially for a digital life. Prototype Care Packages will feature new, remixed, re-edited and under-seen works – ranging from short experimental film, moving image art and video art – home-delivered safely to you. Each work will screen for a week before it’s replaced by the next, and the entire batch will be archived on the Prototype website at the end of the run. Top up our Patreon, and we’ll keep paying artists and filmmakers whose work has been cancelled, and keep sending these dispatches to you.
I don’t know exactly who you are, but I think of you as someone sharing a few minutes of solace, connection, surprise and intellectual discovery through the art in these emails. For the next 6 minutes and 35 seconds, this work is your own. I don’t believe that art must always be life affirming or in pursuit of something beautiful, but perhaps these Prototype Care Packages can be whatever you need them to be: a calming ritual, a creative stimulant, a window to outside.
Lauren Carroll Harris
This work was made with the support of Arts ACT.
About Robert Nugent
Robert Nugent is an artist-filmmaker who lives in Canberra, Australia. His works often involve humans bumping into the non-human world, including his previous documentary feature Night Parrot Stories.