Miriam Austin: Andesite
Opening: 9 December, 12 – 8pm
9 December 2020 – 30 October 2021
Bosse & Baum, London

The exploitation of the earth gives birth to two children: the widow Annie Kelly, raising her children in a tent in 19th-century New Zealand, and, beneath the ground, the blind god Adoh, whose hundred unseeing eyes are witness to a dark future.

Andesite, Miriam Austin’s third solo show at Bosse & Baum, is set at the threshold between these two worlds: the mythical subterranean city of Selvaga, in which organic technologies are manufactured, promising reprieve from ecological crisis; and the real, ancestral story of Annie Kelly, Austin’s great-great-grandmother. The works in Andesite continue a conversation with the dead, opening up the psychic and earthy spaces of extractive industry, colonial settlement, and matrilineal communion.

In Selvaga, floppy machines harness the energy of Alset, the rider who moves through time and slips between zones. Ehusea is a figure of technological sacrifice, vulnerable yet protective, aggressively reaching towards a post-carbon future. Andesite does not resolve the question of whether the disaster has already occurred: the fragile products of human ingenuity are in permanent conflict with geological scales and processes.

The ravaged New Zealand bush, Annie Kelly’s terrestrial zone of colonial settlement, provides a space for the exploration of the legacies of imperialism, seeking to establish forms of dialogue that pose questions about intimacy, inheritance and responsibility. Considering the politically sensitive issues surrounding the appropriation and co-option of myths from non-Western cultures, Andesite aims to establish alternative grounds for understanding and representing kinship. The project brings decolonial, feminist perspectives to an exploration of representations of intimacy and relatedness, working to imagine new ways to live together in an environment threatened by ecological and geopolitical disaster.

The works in the exhibition emerge from a series of experimental practices and a body of research that have opened a form of ancestral communion within which new narratives, histories, protagonists and landscapes - real and imagined - coalesce. Spanning sculpture, installation, drawing and performance - and incorporating materials linked to specific sites and histories: volcanic black sand, obsidian, opals, turban shells, silicone, plastics & ground glass - the works trace stories that depict diverse forms of relatedness that cut against dominant approaches to landscape, environment and kinship found in patriarchal Western societies. Andesite is haunted by figures that raise urgent questions about care and responsibility, reimagining the nature and limits of the familial and expanding them to include a vibrant network of human and non-human agents.

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