Amara Karan: Cosmopolitan Candour (Part Two)

Sunetra Senior Monday 05th September 2022 11:49 EDT

In effect, there must be a terraforming of our very consciousness: inner conceptual revolution that manifests the workable infrastructural equality. Of course, here, Amara’s current project, sci-fi series Moonhaven, which premiered on AMC + this summer, is very much in the metaphorical loop; possibly even on top it! In Peter Ocko’s visionary socio-political drama, the versatile actress plays Indira Mare, envoy of the transcendent AI, IO; an omnipresent technology responsible for running a Utopian colony that futuristically thrives upon the moon: “in that community, there is complete regulation of growth and the environment, from the grass and water to gravity and even monitoring mental health. The IO can track where you are and assess the condition of your physiology, including your feelings e.g., your heartbeat may be used to gauge emotion and it can even provide therapy and aid to help should you need it.” The show’s premise is the reality of a full-blown apocalyptic earth where the secrets to harmonious sustainable existence are believed to have been achieved on this lunar community far away: 

 “I am the diplomat sent on behalf of the company that has created and piloted the technology on the moon with its colony having been a hundred years in the making. As an intermediary I have been trained in the way of the culture and my mission is to go to Moonhaven as the bridge who brings back the vital tech to earth to see if we can rescue humanity.” This speaks directly to the current global green and political crisis where the compelling show was recently commissioned for a second series. Within the space-age model of Moonhaven, there is also interestingly the elimination of tribalism and inception of multicultural society of sorts due to the fact that everyone in the colony raises each other’s children as the societal norm. The adoptive relationships are referred to as ‘Water Brother and Sister’. However, brewing hotly beneath is the inherent conflict between the parallel cultures of the derelict earth and trailblazing moon. The instigating incident is “an unusual murder in Moonhaven that’s almost unheard of” on the same day that Indira arrives to retrieve the computerised order. 

This is reflective of the contemporary ideological rift occurring in real-time between two perceived oppositional sides across the planet. In this sense, the series goes beyond the dilemma of cosmopolitanism to highlighting the existential struggle of realising the wider progressive ideal for which it is a flagship. Amara commented: “My body of work does tend to have many exciting interconnected themes. Art does need to ask big questions about idealism and political systems and how these sit with emotional truth. At the moment, we are lacking a raft of radical ideas and need some very interesting thoughts to change the contentious course of where we’re at. Many different areas require revolutionization e.g., education and farming to class inequality, energy consumption and distribution of food. Moonhaven delves into this kind of experiment imaginatively to give us something to chew on. We are in the position of trying to provide an immense weighty answer, whether or not the fictive creation of Moonhaven succeeds. The shows asks the question of our time: How are we going to live? Sometimes a beautiful vision is not enough: what are the many social challenges we need to properly consider to reach it?”  

Circling back to today’s British politics, for example, people want better overall quality of life and leadership that acknowledges this. The actress continued: “Part of the reason there was such an extreme xenophobic right-wing resurgence is because many cannot make ends meet. They’re not experiencing the benefit of grand ideas. Multiculturalism is great but what do we do when inflation does not reflect real-wages, the gap increasing over decades now and itself a marker of the huge disjunct between rich and poor. We need to tackle functioning of schools and the NHS and the cost of living at the moment. Big thinking becomes a luxury, especially if it doesn’t deliver – what is it really for and who does it represent?” Indeed, much of the cultural tension in the world of Moonhaven appears to be psychological; it exists as the troublesome divide between impossible perfectionism and isolated desperation – the shared conscious and unconscious - expressed in two physicalised public spheres. The message seems not so much how two contrasting cultures can co-exist as the mutually affirmative need for those commonly human to recalibrate and form an all-encompassing complete paradigm of well-being together. 

This is to be cosmically in tune. There must be spiritual reconciliation between beatific nirvanas and difficult lived reality to create a balanced paradigm of society over one of fragile hope. 

To be Continued Next Week! 


T: @amarakaran 

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