Landscapes of Energy & Extraction: We are Compost / Composting the We

Friday 10 June 2022

In the final session to close Practicing Landscape: Landscapes of Energy & Extraction, two artist researchers Margarita Certeza Garcia and Désirée Coral discussed their contributions to We are Compost / Composting the We, a forthcoming show at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Glasgow. Chaired by Sue Brind:

Margarita Certeza Garcia:

To mark the occasion of the 22nd World Congress of Soil Science – Crossing Boundaries, Changing Society, an exhibition and outreach programme took place at the CCA from 29 July to 10 September 2022. This featured examples of radical composting that explore issues such as food sovereignty, meal cultures, waste streams, allotment politics, right to land movements, seed saving initiatives, and soils as relational, subjective bodies in multispecies communities that demand attention and time in all forms of land stewardship.

Titled, We are Compost / Composting the We, the exhibition programme responds to Haraway’s metaphoric use of composting and other fermented fruits of feminist STS (science, technology and society studies), environmental humanities, and critical soil science to explore what can be “composted” in and through socially engaged art and design. In an age characterized by the entangled crises of climate change, political instability, post-pandemic cultural production, and post- colonial legacies we ask: how can compost be used as a tool for conscious permutation, grieving and reconciliation in the face of mass extinction? How can creative soil-building practicescounter

inequality and promote environmental justice to transform civil societies on the verge of erosion? How can multi-species compost heaps stir up the hegemonic “we” at the centre of the Anthropocene? And how can healthy soil become not only a metaphor but a driver for social change?

Margarita Certeza Garcia (she/her) is a Lecturer in Artistic Research at the Bauhaus University Weimar, where she is also pursuing a PhD in art. Margarita also leads the Antidiscrimination Office in Weimar and is a member of the International Advisory Council for the City of Weimar. In her artistic research she focuses on the gendered topics of food politics, meal cultures and public space as theyrelate to post-colonial discourses.

Margarita contributes to the curatorial team behind We are Compost / Composting the We, in collaboration with the Bauhaus University’s Prof. Alex Toland, Public Arts Lecturer Lea Wittich, and the Centre for Contemporary Art’s Sabrina Henry, Alaya Ang and Francis McKee.

Désirée Coral:

Seed representations in art and pre-Columbian artifacts as a lens to understand human interactions with seeds.

Colonial Seeds was the title of the Research Residency the artist undertook with the Glasgow Seed Library. This residency started at the end of January and concluded July with an artistic response as part of the exhibition. Désirée Coral discussed her proposed piece for the show that looked into the early American domestications of crops and seeds, such as maize, potatoes, tomatoes, quinoa, beans, and pumpkins amongst others, contrasting our contemporary approach to these seeds. 

The artist discussed some elements of the research and the exhibition as the representation of domesticated seeds from the Americas in archaeological gold, ceramics, and textile objects. This included looking into the pre-Columbian Andean cosmovision and possible interpretations through archaeological objects and contrasting them with some art history representations of crops or seeds in art pieces as well as their incorporation into the gastronomical landscape of Europe and later in the UK. Within this presentation notions of decoloniality, geographical movements, displacement, adaptation, responsible safekeeping, and collections were further revealed.

Désirée Coral is an artist born in Ecuador who received her MFA degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she researched the politics of gold as material in the arts and the mining environmental implications and its bureaucratic responsibilities. She is currently a Doctoral researcher at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in the University of Dundee in Scotland. 

Désirée explores and examines early global botanical exchanges from the Americas and its trajectories. She is an artist/researcher at the Botanical Gardens of the University of Dundee, and is the Glasgow Seed Library’s first artist/researcher in residence at the Contemporary Centre for the Arts in Glasgow.

Desirée’s art/research is supported by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities.

Susan Brind studied Fine Art at Reading University and the Slade School of Art, London, specializing time-based installation.  Maintaining her interest in the tension between subjectivity and rationalism, her recent independent and collaborative works (with Jim Harold) have sought to question how knowledge and history shape our understandings of the contemporary world; an engagement with place and context being integral in the development of works. Her work has been exhibited widely in the UK and Europe, and she has received a number of awards and commissions. In addition to exhibiting work, curatorial and publishing projects have been considered as integral to her practice.  Most notable examples have been The Reading Room  (co-curated with Jane Rolo, Book Works for venues in Glasgow, Oxford and London, 1994), The State of the Real:  Aesthetics in the Digital Age (Sutton, Brind & McKenzie, IB Tauris, 2007). More recent activities include Nomadic Dialogues, in Cyprus and Norway, conducted through an international network, the Creative Centre for Fluid Territories.   

Sue is a Reader in Contemporary Art:  Practice & Events at Glasgow School of Art, based in the Dept of Sculpture & Environmental Art, teaching at undergraduate and PhD levels.  In collaboration with Dr Nicky Bird, she co-founded Reading Landscape



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