Description: Trace Environments: Sovereignty, toxicity and the littoral

| tag: Mechelen

The Littoral

If the law that defines the littoral (the in-between zone between land and sea) was ever appropriate to its materiality, it does not correspond to it now. From where artist Beatriz Santiago Muñoz lives, this zone has changed physically, materially but also symbolically and its scope expands and contracts in the artist’s psyche. Sci-fi and the strangeness of plant-life help us to imagine a future law, malleable in the extreme, able to riff and improvise. The littoral may be a place but also perhaps a time, an image and an idea.


The Law of the Littoral

In response to the recognition of Indigenous ownership to intertidal waters in the High Court case, Blue Mud Bay (2008), an interim agreement was reached between the federal government and Indigenous owners that allowed non-Indigenous fishers a specific mode of access to the intertide—they could float on it but not disembark from it. This talk explores how, in trying to circumvent Indigenous coastal sovereignty, the late liberal government exposed itself to the law of the littoral.


Trace Evidence

Within environmental justice work, establishing the incontrovertible relationship between cause and effect has proven a difficult legal challenge. The spatial dispersion of contaminates and temporal latency of their material and biological effects, which may take years, even decades to emerge, has allowed global climate-change actors and states to operate with virtual impunity. But the nuclear isn’t like other complex, non-linear events. Despite its radical and covert nature, the unique signature and behaviour of radioactive isotopes allows its lethal traces to be tracked directly back to their source, re-connecting, in effect, the evidential links that planetary phenomena has seemingly torn apart.


The east wind and the bond we share with the tissue of the shellfish—strings, nodes and skin politics in the age of soft-war

A cyborg teams up with a microorganism perspective: recent global developments have created new species of algae whose bloom is toxic and trigger popular media presence called the red tide. The phenomena of bioluminescence, as such, can be connected to the planetary system for navigation, spiritual and emotional power. In expressing a form of “poetical ethics” that builds upon her installation for Contour Biennale, Winterling reflects on monitoring systems to anticipate climate hazards and focalize the many symptoms of systemic violence arising from ecocide.