Tending Toxicity draws upon compulsive acts of care as the artists grapple with the hopelessness of ecosystem collapse. Ecosystems decimated by violence are biophysically, socially, spiritually, and culturally toxic, leaving communities with little option but to adapt to this toxicity through a process of tenderness. In this multimedia exhibition, Michael Ross, Otis Filley and Dan Schulz explore the human relationship to degraded environments, collecting stories of human and animal victims, and documenting their own relationship to ecological care as an artistic process.
Otis Filley and Dan Schulz live in relationship to the Darling-Barka River, a sacred and ancient river whose existence is threatened by water extraction and climate change. During the worst drought in living memory, these two video artists documented the struggle of human and animal communities which depend on the river for life. For three months they walked the river daily and followed the efforts of fish rescue volunteers as they relocated Murray Cod to preserve the endangered fish from toxic refuge pools.
Michael Ross’ work preserves the fragments left behind after the 2019 bushfires by collecting and caring for objects rich in memory and story. Through a process of cleaning, Ross’ contemplative practice comes to terms with the horror and beauty of climate violence. Drawing upon his inherited memory of the Holocaust, his practice compulsively preserves objects in a state of abandonment, where they become symbols of life.