Background image: Cumulative Distress/Effect, 2020 (detail) by Lea Kannar-Lichtenberger
Cumulative Distress/Effect 2020 V1
Sculpture by the Sea - Cottesloe 2020,
Block Ice (100 x 50 x 40 cm or 250 litres) , Ocean debris, large scale petri dish (120cm dia), fishing net and tepee frame. 200 x 200 x 200 cm
Images can only do so much to give us an understanding of the problem and scale of debris in the oceans. This work part ephemeral and part permanent, creates an intersection which engages the viewer by considering how our contemporary lives intersect with the natural world.
At the centre of this work sits blocks of ice that have embedded the debris collected by me from one island close to Sydney’s shores, Lord Howe Island. A collection from 3 beaches there have been frozen into 6 large blocks of ice and will be sequentially placed into a Petri dish surrounded by a fishing net.
As each block melts it disgorges its contents into the Petri dish, every 3 days a new block is placed on the plinth in the dish to continue the process. Systematically as each block melts, the viewer can witness the debris as it accumulates in the dish, just as the waves deposit pieces over time on our beaches. Finally, the scale of the ocean plastic problem will become more tangible with the melting of the final block.
The use of the Petri dish in capturing not just the debris but the melt waters of each block acts as a signifier of science that gave us plastic and global challenges and yet holds our expectations as our saviour. The ice is a monolith of ice, each block reflects not just the colonialist ideal of land claim by construction whilst also representing the favoured summer ice-block favourite, but this block acts as the signifier to the glacial melt that is occurring worldwide, each is not without its consequences. Examining our impact from a distance reflects on the role of contemporary society in global warming and how remote places such as Lord Howe Island is being affected.