“As contamination changes world-making projects, mutual worlds—and new directions—may emerge.”
– Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
‘In the Anthropocene, noticing and observing microbial worlds is more essential than ever. Human bodies are ‘nested’ ecosystems and should no longer be perceived as fortresses to shield and defend against microbial onslaught.’ In her latest film, Sonia Mehra Chawla advocates for live-able collaborations, and rethinking bacteria as partners in health, endurance and survival of all living beings.
The narrative story consists of a chain of events, experiences and encounters presented in seven chapters, that centre around the artist’s engagement with the more-than-human life forms that inhabit the desolate and mysterious tidal island of Cramond, one of several islands in the Firth of Forth and a Scottish defence site from World War II. ‘The ruin is at one level an object, at another a process or an action. Nature has now made it her own. The concrete ruins are consumed, engulfed and appropriate creatures revel.‘ Living material is collected from diverse environments of the island. At the ASCUS laboratory in Edinburgh, the artist constructs devices for culturing a large diversity of microorganisms, unique miniature microbial ecosystems or microbial gardens. As the microbes in the soil photo-synthesize pigments, we are exposed to the processes of growth and decay of various species of bacteria within this ecosystem.
‘What constitutes life? What does cohabitation mean in an era of many urgencies and biological annihilation with accelerating rates of species extinctions? What does it mean to have agency and ownership over another’s life? What are the possibilities and limitations of working with other-than-human lives? What is the relation between capitalist destruction, contaminated diversity, and collaborative survival within multispecies landscape?’ What does it mean to be at risk with each other?
The film has been realized within the framework of ‘Entanglements of Time & Tide’, a long-term research based art-science engagement project by Sonia Mehra Chawla that explores the North Sea and its tidal zones in their ecological, cultural, political, economic, and poetic capacity. ‘Entanglements of Time & Tide’ is supported by Edinburgh printmakers, Marine Scotland, Marine Laboratory of the Scottish Government in Aberdeen, ASCUS Art & Science, Edinburgh and Creative Scotland.
The film, presentation and discussion will be in English. No registration required. Free admission!