“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.” Bertolt Brecht
Current Research Project
In the current discussions of the world, waste pollution and migration are of central focus and concern. This work looks to explore humankind’s relationship to waste pollution, which is set to be the downfall of all amidst the distractions of borders, migration and nationalism. Studying water networks that make their way thorough areas that have particular relevance to migration and borders it encourages discussions around the urgency of mankind’s resolution to unite and shift our focus towards the protection of the earth we wage wars upon. Water networks have been traditional routes of trade, culture and sharing for millennia and are now polluted from their micro to their macro ecosystems. For me this is a pertinent place to explore how we can approach our relationship to each other and the Earth not through scaremongering, but through reflection on the systems that keep us together and evoke us to consider not how pollution affects man kind, but how it affects all systems of balance and life.
Lebanon is a country plagued by border controls, the tug of war between Israel and Palestine and Syrian refugees searching for peace. Alongside this struggle waste pollution is a detrimental issue, flooding the city and water networks.
History accounts Lebanon as one of the oldest permanently inhabited cities in the world, having been connected by the sea and rivers to ancient trade routes and establishing itself as a fishing community, living off the oceans from more than 8,000 years. During the Stone Age, Beirut was two islands in the delta of the Beirut River, but over the centuries, the river silted up, and the two islands were connected into one land mass The river valley stretches across several municipalities that do not formally protect it from hunting, fire, urban development, deforestation, water pollution and overgrazing. The water is contaminated with toxic levels of metals, chemicals and bacteria and in September 2018 Beirut saw its rivers turn to plastic as waste flooded the city.
This chapter explores Scotland’s water networks, where plastic pollution is savagely depleting the country’s wildlife against the backdrop of Scotland’s national situation - as they attempt to pull away from the UK and are entangled in the UK’s departure from Europe. In the most remote, breathtaking wilderness of Scotland, plastic litters the landscape, being brought in with the tides and making its way up the lochs, into the streams and across Scotland’s shores. Walkers packets, Nestle and Coca Cola are now advertising themselves playing a very different role as their packaging litters the land in vacuous repetition. I left on this journey prepared to document set locations known for plastic pollution, but at every loch, stream and shore I came across the severity of the problem became obvious as plastic greeted me at every turn.
The waterways of Scotland were once the very thing that gave Scotland their independence - having been cut off from England with Hadrian’s wall, Scotland relied on its coasts and water networks for trade and settlement. Now the waterways are set to spread pollution and disease as toxins rise and with every tide a new rubbish dump emerges to suffocate the land and enter the food chain of the micro to the macro.
This location along the Thames Estuary was based in a nature reserve, with many species of birds frequenting the area. In the car, on my way to the location, every radio channel echoed Brexit, no mention of the plastic horror I was met with walking along the estuary; layer upon layer of plastic, from large pieces to those turned to plastic soil.