Mineral Garden is a collaboration project on the connectedness between individual projects by Randy Lee Cutler and Andrew Rewald for NIRIN, 22nd Biennale of Sydney, 2020. The installation includes mineral specimens and other objects on loan from the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences collection, as well as mineral specimens loaned from the private collection of Christine Myerscough.
This is the first collaboration for Cutler and Rewald. Working with temporal and spatial displacements between Canada and Australia, their shared interests in the natural world and ecological crisis inform a speculative engagement with lifeforms and hybrid systems. Drawing on plants and minerals as a material and metaphor, their Biennale of Sydney project offers alchemical propositions for a more sustainable world.
Responding to NIRIN themes:
DHAAGUN (Earth: Sovereignty and Working Together)
YIRAWY–DHURAY (Yam-Connection: Food)
MURIGUWAL GIILAND (Different Stories)
NGAWAAL-GUYUNGAN (Powerful-Ideas: The Power of Objects)
BILA (River: Environment)
Mineral Garden is a speculative portal that takes the viewer through an alternative spacetime of hyper terrestriality. Glints and facets of alternative realms are presented through diverse lenses of mysticism, museum taxonomy, science fiction and reality, revealed through the entanglement of collages, posters, mineral and plant specimens and archival objects, enabling space for connections to be made and reinterpreted. A reading area supports the project with significant books that have inspired the collaboration, with past, present and future interpretations of the natural world.
Mineral Garden can be viewed as a nonlinear series of hybrid stories based on seemingly disparate but interrelated formal and informal knowledge practices, to cultivate alternative narratives on botanical organisms in the soil and the geological forms beneath our feet. The installation weaves between three rooms of differing atmosphere to speculate on the secret life of plants and minerals and what might exist in-between. The work presents the potential for emergent worlds and lifeforms that further reveal our interconnectedness with the universal elements vital for all life. All this highlights relationships that are manifest in the ecologies we unearth, create or destroy, but are inextricably part of.
For Cutler’s individual Biennale project Mineral Collection, the presence of minerals in our daily environments are explored for their profound but often unacknowledged effect on our experiences and the world around us. Using a variety of media such as collages, posters, audio and participatory events, the project maps the physical structures, geographies and biological effects of minerals including salt and shows how they work as the invisible building blocks of our bodies and our technologies. Each artistic component of Mineral Collection becomes a geological dig across a physical-metaphorical spectrum connecting and rupturing familiar meanings and assumptions. This multi-faceted approach allows for a non-linear encounter with crystal formations compressing deep time with our collective futures to better contemplate human interactions with these earthly deposits. The collection includes SaltWalks, a series of performative walks; Rock Album, a sound work; The Underworld, a poster series and the Mineral Garden exhibition.
Rewald’s individual Biennale project Alchemy Garden is a site specific installation/garden the National Art School that considers food-plant-people relationships through our historical and cultural role as ecological landscapers. The project, a site-specific community activated garden of ethnobotanical edibles cultivated onsite at the National Art School, nurtures participatory events and activities. A series of events cover Indigenous Permaculture with Yerrabingin Aboriginal Farm, soil sciences on anthropogenic soils and bioactive charcoal for carbon sequestration, and urban foraging for edible weeds. In this way, audiences are introduced to everyday sustainable practices within urban contexts, to foster deeper awareness of the global climate crisis and ways to consider mitigating its extreme effects. The garden is grounded in Indigenous and colonial/migrant ethnobotanical stories that connect us to the places we live, while highlighting our paradoxical dislocation from them with the need to reconnect.