Storm water

Single-channel video, 11 minutes 34 seconds

Umwelt collective

Performance artists: Merinda and Lowana Davies

Soundscore: Tom Lyons

This work was commissioned for Subjective Spectacle, for Sidesault Festival, Melbourne 14-17 November 2019.

Filmed on Kombumerri land, Tallebudgera Creek and suburbs of North Burleigh.

In 1925 there was a population of eight Europeans living in Burleigh Heads, the population is now over 10,000 residential plus a large transient tourist population. Stormwater explores how this place has been built on top of a natural water system, skyscrapers growing out of the sand and water that has been redirected into canals and stormwater drain systems to make way for suburbs and highways. The natural creeks that used to dilate between large lakes and smaller creeks creating wetlands for birds and fish between seasons now have controlled, static rock walls to stop them flooding where houses have been built. The artists explore the memory of this place through a series of meditations on water. This work looks at the spectacle of the built environment and meditates on the questions: What happens to waterways when humans redirect the natural flow of water to suit suburban life? How is marine life affected by the pollution that is carried into the ocean from stormwater drains? Considering these questions with a broader metaphor in mind. Controlling these water systems to support a sense of comfortability is part of a greater conversation around climate change and human arrogance. Who owns the land beneath the surface? And how can we as artists be part of a real solution? What does it mean for the animal life, and humans as we are porous animals ourselves, vulnerable and soft. Climate change should be an issue that evokes compassion. For other humans, for animals, plants, and we must recognise our privilege.

This work is influenced by Erwin Werm's one-minute sculptures, as a way to inhabit a space artistically, in relation to the body.