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I acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which I live and practice on. The Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation have been living sustainably in so-called Australia for over 60,000 years because of the First Nations People’s reciprocal connection to ancestral land as a living entity. Violent colonisation and dispossession of land and culture remain prevalent to this day. The systemic oppression of complex epistemologies of sustainable cultural practice is an undeniable catalyst in the ecological breakdowns occurring across the continent and planet. Sovereignty was never ceded.
Where The Merri Meets Edgars Creek, super 8 film developed in caffenol and digitally scanned, 2021
There are endless ethical concerns that become apparent when using coffee as a photographic developer. Material transparency is vital if we are to acknowledge the complexity of defining sustainable alternatives in the globalised world. Ecological sustainability requires consistent critical reflection and resistance towards blindly accepting the methods and materials we introduce. While caffenol is a non-toxic alternative to market-grade developers, it has ethical implications. Coffee’s agricultural expansion on a globalised scale has resulted in several problematic practices within the industry. Tropical environments fundamental to the production and harvest of coffee are having their native ecosystems cleared to meet the growing demand for production. Additionally, the conditions enforced by the privatisation of production take advantage not only of the land but the exploitation of labourers. Under this system, farmers are subjected to unhygienic working conditions, exposure to hazardous pesticides and inequitable wages.
While Caffenol is an alternative way of bringing images into fruition that continues to grow in popularity, my desire to hold onto time with such a tight grip, is one of relative universality. A universality I have seen first hand. This cultural phenomenon scares me, as I have come to see the photograph as resistance towards presence. While a moment itself is fragile, a tangible thing that is well looked after can be held with a tight grip. An image makes time feel controllable. Yet this desire for control and the compulsions that follow are rooted in a fear of loss, a fear of time escaping us and the things time takes with it. I know being more present with time would make the anxious fretting over change quieter. A part of me knows giving up photography is what everything is pointing towards. But I really don’t want to let it go.
I am a predominantly image based artist, situated in Naarm/Melbourne. My practice critically considers the contradictions within the materiality of my practice, its imposition on stolen land and the toxicity of photographic production. My work is informed by encounters with place that continue to prompt ecological restoration projects and research-driven inquiries into Naarm’s vibrant waterways. Notions of ecological relations, permanence, time, and nostalgia are prominent themes. Material experimentation and transparency are critical points of departure.
My practice strives to address contraditions as calls to action rather than deterents.
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