New work for SACO Bienale of Contemporary Art, Antogagasta, Sept 2023 Considering post-mined lands and plant led restitutions.
Anthropologist Anna Tsing writes in ‘The Mushroom at the End of the World’ about the possibility of life at the edges of late Capitalism, about the success of mushroom growth in disrupted and post-extracted spaces, and simultaneously, the humans and economies that exist in these spaces and modes.
‘‘We are contaminated by our encounters…’ writes Tsing.
Everyone carries a history of contamination; purity is not an option…. The evolution of our “selves” is already polluted by histories of encounter.‘ Tsing proposes.
This work will consider the act of contamination and restitution.
Saltwort or glasswort, (Sarcocornia neei) known in Chile as hierba del salitre/ Verdolaguilla, grows around the world in salty, briny waters; interstitially between the sea and the land. It can also survive in water poisoned by metals, absorbing and accumulating the metal and locking it away in its roots. This humble plant can grow where not much else can survive.
Inviting Sarcocornia to grow in copper and heavy metal contaminated soil from mine tailings and other sites around Antofagasta, one of the most heavily copper mined regions globally.
Working with Dr Bernardo Bernardo Sepúlveda, CRIDESAT
Universidad de Atacama, who has discovered the potential of Sarcoccornia neei to grow on contaminated mile tailings in locally sourced brackish water.
Phyto accumulation and pyto remediation is an emerging field in plant science using plants with a unique ability to absorb toxic levels of minerals to both to recover minerals otherwise uneconomic to extract and to restitute post mined sites globally.
R: sychrotron image of heavy metal phytoaccumulation in seedlings
Below: community engagement and proposed section of gallery installation