The World After #5 – Smári Róbertsson

April 10, 2020

In The World After we invite artists to respond to questions about the Anthropocene after the Coronavirus pandemic. This project is inspired by the exhibition Poems for Earthlings by Adrián Villar Rojas. More information about the project and other artist contributions can be found on our overview pageThe World After is initiated by the Oude Kerk in collaboration with mister Motley.

The World After #5
Smári Róbertsson: Absolute Time and Relative Time, 2020

In 2019, artist Smári Róbertsson created a new work for the Oude Kerk. This Clock Before it Existed was an intervention in which he adjusted the clock on top of the large organ: for a few months, every minute its hands turned back 24 hours in time, past the time when the clock was made: the year 1724. The publication for this project can be found at

His contribution to The World After consists of the video and the text below.

Hey, there is absolutely no taxonomical distinction between grasshoppers and locust.
There is absolutely no taxonomical distinction between locust and grasshoppers.
Only under specific environmental conditions a change is triggered in the brain chemistry of the solitary grasshopper.
Flooding their brains with serotonin, morphing their bodies and mutating their behaviour — causing them to swarm.


They have been busy
Sacrificing our future to preserve their present or 
Sacrificing our present for a past that never was or 
Squandering our present for a future that will never be or 
Trivialising their past to protect the present they control

They’re burning up the past to get to the present
They’re burning up the world to safe their own 
They’re rolling on the floor laughing
They’re laughing all the way to the bank

Now, this IRL isolation is disturbingly familiar
Now, more than ever, the Egregore is fed amidst,
Now, more than ever, the Egregore renders our words meaningless
And now, more than ever temples all around the world chant amidst, amidst, amidst, the status quo thrives despite global pandemic. 

The chanting stops for a moment, looking up we see that we’ve become bands of wingless nymphs. Solitary individuals look up from their own struggle and see the struggle all around them. The plague we form can be one of transformation. Once our individual uncertainty, hopelessness and isolation turns to solidarity: Swarm

Use words that you know you can trust 
Speak chaotically and poetically
When they try to resell you their narrative of your experience 
Reject it
Remember the cracks in the system you witnessed as it faltered
Remember the tastes, the smells, the feelings 
Soon narratives will be leveraged against us for profit and power: