“She the River” collaboration for Untaming the Urban

The below text is the artist statement which accompanies the creative work She the River being presented as part of the Untaming the Urban exhibition, curated by Tracey Benson at the Australian National University, December 2018

A curatorial collaboration by Liz Barker, Louisa Miranda, and Thomas Dick

Statement by Liz Barker

As an artist, I make creek prints in rivers. I stand ankle or shin deep in the water and place my paper on the waters surface and gently peel it off again. I then dry and varnish them. The prints are beautiful and lyrical and they sing songs of the river. Songs of decay. Songs of new life. Songs of cycles. The surface scum is made up of phytoplankton, which is the base of the oceanic food web. Collectively these microscopic organisms while floating around on the surface level of the worlds oceans and waterways, provide up to 80% of the worlds oxygen through photosynthesis. This surface scum is source of all life on this planet. It is in this way that the creek prints are guiding me into the world of science. Perhaps they are the maps themselves. Landmarks along the way. They are non linear pathways, maps to unknown places, maps of the river themselves. A glimpse of the beauty of the whole. A journey back to wholeness.

This is a collaborative exhibition that explores these meandering maps and pathways. My creek prints are featured in digital format for the first time, presented on a large screen. But this exhibition is primarily about giving an aesthetic expression to Tom’s PhD research with communities in Vanuatu. Privileging multiple subjectivities and make them accessible through visual means. Understanding traditional wisdom as science. Curating science into art. Working with artist, poet and dancer Louisa Miranda the three of us are curating his research. Tom, Louisa and I worked together in Bangkok making prints like these from the overburdened waterways around the city. Almost 20 years have passed and this exhibition marks our creative and scientific reunion.

Along with the prints we take sonic recordings of the submarine environment, documenting more-than- human entanglements with the riparian setting through poetry and creative writing, while scientifically analysing the health of the waterways over time.

See:

Thomas Dick ‘Reconciling kastom, tourism, and art in the Pacific: the case of the Leweton Cultural Group and “water music”’ available at http://epubs.scu.edu.au/theses/560/

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Photo by Richard Hocking

Untaming the Urban 2018

TransArts Alliance is really excited to announce that we will be collaborating with Untaming the Urban to support the 2018 symposium at The Fenner School of Environment & Society at the Australian National University.

Since the first symposium in 2016, a number of projects have emerged and are continuing to take root and grow. This symposium is all about building on this work and connecting on the themes of urban sustainability and cross species habitation. Here is some of the synopsis:

The urban built environment has largely been considered and constructed as a human habitat although we share these spaces with many other species. Urban Growth is placing pressure on natural and modified habitats changing the way we cohabit with other species in cities, towns and suburbs. Retention, modification and recreation of habitats requires new perspectives about how we share these spaces with more-than-human others. Our collective wellbeing is at stake, both for allowing urban life to thrive and human wellbeing gained from the relationship with our domestic and wild biota.

Tracey will be looking after the cross-media for the event and curating the art exhibition. Up to the event we plan to share some of the research and activities leading up to the symposium.

More details coming soon.