reading group
Clay's Ark by Octavia E. Butler
Octavia E. Butler

Online reading group: Clay’s Ark by Octavia E. Butler
Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 May, 6-7.30pm

In the framework of Learning by Artemisia by Uriel Orlow, La Loge commissioned author Fiep van Bodegom to write an essay hinging on the underlying themes of the exhibition, such as disease, public health, social systems and the impact of architecture on our collective behaviour. Orlow's exhibition, which tells the story of the African wormwood commonly used to treat fevers and malaria, feels particularly timely in light of the current pandemic.

The essay will be made available in May and will be supplemented by an online reading group led by Van Bodegom.

During two online sessions on 13 and 14 May, the reading group will revisit Clay’s Ark (1985), a novel from the Patternist series by African-American science fiction author Octavia E. Butler. In Butler’s plague story Clay’s Ark, ‘The other’ (the virus) becomes the creator of a different way of life, upending the distinction between ‘we’ and ‘them’ and laying the foundation for a new social contract. What would it mean, Butler asks, to approach an infectious organism as an unavoidable cohabitant, rather than a hostile invader that ought to be eliminated? The online reading group will adopt the form of an open discussion connecting Butler’s novel to the present day.

Fiep van Bodegom is a writer and literary critic based in Amsterdam.

Practical information

Wednesday 13 May, 6-7.30pm
Thursday 14 May, 6-7.30pm
Participation is free of charge, but places are limited. Please RSVP via
La Loge will send you all the practical information and a PDF by email.