Last Time We Spoke weaves together found footage, appropriated academic texts and a fictional narrative, partly inspired by a New Scientist article by Fred Pearce about the destruction of a seed bank in the Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib, as well as by the premise and structure of Anna Kavan’s novel Ice. The narrator tracks a missing person who has disappeared after a major incident, perhaps in order to protect something precious stored in a cardboard box. In the aftermath of the incident, and the disappearance, the narrator recalls the circumstances of a major crisis in food production, one
created by food markets, agribusiness, monocropping and environmental damage.

The narrator looks for clues in recent history and by remembering their most recent encounter with the missing person, as well as imagining their current and future behaviour. Perhaps the contents of the box could help us recover from this global catastrophe, if it isn’t already too late.

“Political fear is supposed to teach us the worth of specific political values. The fear of civil war, for instance, is supposed to breed a respect for the rule of law, the fear of totalitarianism an appreciation for liberal democracy, the fear of fundamentalism support for toleration and pluralism.
You ran. Of course you ran, anyone would have. But before you did, you collected a package, of some sort. A cardboard box? That’s what I heard. And then you ran. Into the darkness. Into the night. Last time we spoke. We thought of ourselves as friends. Was it too much to ask? Well you did ask, but you didn’t follow through. We were interrupted. But I pick up where you left off. To absent friends. A solitary pursuit.”

J.A. Harrington is an artist/writer from the Scottish Borders, who looks at subjectivity, storytelling and world-building within academic language, social history and hierarchies of knowledge.