Created Image: Chemicals in Camouflage

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jpeg

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Creative Commons Licence

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Created date

November 23, 2018

Critical Commentary

This piece considers the slow and slippery relinquishing of the earth to development and contamination. It showcases the ever-presence of toxicity and the everyday and mundane harm that pollution, plastics, and chemicals have become. As a sort of covert violence, neo-colonialism forces toxicity upon peoples who have been historical set in discourses of need, and often what appears as a Western-powered resource or a sign of progress are in fact harmful and inhumane. Of particular importance are the vibrant colors of the toxins, shown in the transposed image of jars of pesticides, cleaners, and fertilizers. This bright and glowing affect even mimics some of the healing medicines and wild elixers from local medical systems. There is allure in contamination. And their effects are subtle and long-term, solving our immediate crises in exchange for other, deeper impacts, which take us further from our "natural state" as humans who live in connection with the earth and exist as an extension of the landscape. This image is purposefully mundane. I choose an off-center, pedestrian view of these contaminants to highlight the subtle ways in which foreign objects and synthetic materials become infused into the fabric of everyday life, and I show this resource-depleted resgion in with everyday resources to question the need that contaminants serve and how that need has historically arisen.

Created Image: Razors in the Milk of Development

This image shows a typical outdoor kitchen in Uganda, complete with the ubiquitous plastic bins, used for everything from fishing to baby bathing to dishwashing to collecting herbs, to holding placentas. In the image transposed over, you see another plastic bin full of milk, a product with heavy symbolism in this region of Ankole people, cattle-keepers of Southwestern Uganda who take great pride in their milk production as cultural capital. The razor in the milk is also a common material icon in this part of the world. The Eagle-brand razors are, like the plastic bins, made in China and are used widely for everything from shaving heads to cutting umbilical chords to scarification practices to sharpening pencils. Both of these manufactured items undoubtedly makes life a bit easier, but I question at the expense of what. The combination of these pieces suggests that intervention, development, and aid are dangers in their unsustainable or destructive approaches. Particularly in regards to development projects that utilize important cultural resources in order to reach people only to leave harmful residues and trails of dependency, pollution, or violence.

Created Image: Weaving the Past Forward

This piece considers the cultural terrain of ancestral earth as resource and provision as well as reflection of the human condition. Through ethnographic frameworks of medical systems in rural Uganda, my work explores the relationship between earth and humanity, and the condition of each. Set in theories of eco-feminism, environmental humanism, and critical anthropology, my larger project considers the ecological past as the cure for the future. As we simultaneously make earth our sacred home and subject it to destruction, this work looks at how the continuation of life on earth is always a crisis. Amongst conversations of the Anthropocene, this project explores ecological mutuality as an emollient. Calibrating, attuning, and adapting to surroundings defines organic survival. What does natural or biological come to represent in the future? The “bush,” or wild environments, are symbols of senses of self, history, and connectivity that people visit in pilgrimage to ground, gather, and recall their bodily home base. My work points to the industrialization of medicine and the colonization of health in the name of development. I look at historical and personal connections that community members have to wild natural environments and theorize on the earth as resource and as something that people tend, meaning to manage and care for. In this image of a woman weaving natural reeds into mats for flooring, I ask how the environment is a teacher of how to be. The open expanses in the background pose the question of future and incoming development and pollution, and the transposed image at the woman's feet shows glowing (alomst nuclear) rods from my installation, suggesting that contamination is infused in (or woven into) seemingly natural materials.