Remediation

The Celebrated Trees of Nashville: Ecological Performance Action

On November 1st, Plantable (made up Meghan Moe Beitiks, Bronwyn Preece and Lisa Woynarski) performed an ecological action on the streets and state capitol of Nashville, Tennessee. As part of the American Society of Theatre Research (ASTR) conference, the performance began with a procession through the streets of downtown Nashville. Carrying large red buckets full of red wiggler worms, the performance proceeded to the grounds of the State Capitol where we surrounded a tree and “planted” the worms at the base. Red wiggler worms are prized for their fertilisation qualities and their ability to enrich the soil, providing nourishment for the tree. In conversation with State Capitol maintenance staff, we learned of previous, but not current, usage of RoundUp on these trees – necessitating further remediation, and equally not jeopardizing the life of the worms. Amidst curious looks and questions from onlookers, the performance sought to bring the research questions of the ASTR Ecology and Performance Working Session to a form of praxis, asking what the intersection of an ecologically positive action, performance and intervention would look like.

See video of the performance action here:

Mel Chin to speak at Farm Lab 2/11 7pm



For those of us who have followed the art and ecology movement over the last two decades, Mel Chin is considered an influential pioneer combining art with brownfield remediation. His famous or infamous Revival Field (1989-ongoing) funded with NEA money that was rescinded then later reinstated, demonstrated the natural processes of removing heavy metals from soil using hyper accumulator plants.
He did this project in collaboration with an agronomist at a landfill site in Minnesota.

Mel will be in Los Angeles next week to give a talk on his Fundred Dollar Bill Project in New Orleans. If you have never heard him speak, you should go, with the promise that you will be entertained and educated. Being an artist should be so much fun!

For more information go the FarmLab website HERE

Go to EcoLOGIC LA

The Culture of Bioremediation: Terry Hazen Interview.

terry hazen

The signature on an email from Terry Hazen is a paragraph long. It has to be- it lists a multitude of titles.  He’s the Head of the Ecology Department at the University of California at Berkeley. The Head of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology. The Lead of Microbial Enhanced Hydrocarbon Recovery at the Energy Biosciences Institute. The list goes on. Hazen is, therefore, the perfect man to talk to about our current attempts to correct massive ecological f-ups, and what that means for artists.

Hazen’s world is inhabited by mircoorganisms, or, as he colloquially refers to them, “bugs.” There are bugs that eat pollution, bugs that chemically reduce uranium, bugs that feed on hydrocarbons. ” I still feel a lot of people are amazed that there’s a bug out there that can degrade just about anything, ” he says. While the idea of the “magic bug” is sometimes helpful to the remediation industries, there is, he cautions, no bug without context.

“It’s so easy to sell bioremediation, ” he says. “It can completely degrade contaminants in laboratory settings, (but) in the environmental settings it may not work as effectively, or make it worse.” He cites the example of arsenic, which actually becomes more soluble– and  likely to contaminate the water table– when reduced.

“Some companies will go for the quick fix, not realizing that in cleaning up one contaminant, they exacerbate three others, ” he laments. “They often don’t look for a complete solution.” Hazen’s work  is dedicated to more of a “complete systems biology” approach. Sometimes, he argues, the best thing for a polluted site is to just leave it alone. You can see one of his excellent and comprehensive lectures here.

While navigating the maze of invisible bug-land, Hazen keeps environmental art within reach. On his office wall hangs a piece of artwork by a 10-year old girl, depicting storks in the Danube river riparian zone. He obtained it while in Serbia for an Environmental Remediation meeting.

“Art that educates or just inspires people to reuse, recyle, reduce, and remediate, to make our land and water less toxic and less toxic for generations to come makes us all better doesn’t it,” says Hazen. He would know: he spends much of his time managing the methods that attempt to clean up our mistakes.

Go to the Green Museum