Media Release: Absorption Unveiled

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Kaldor Public Art Projects and Carriageworks today unveiled Kaldor Public Art Project 34: Absorption by Asad Raza. Absorption is presented free to the public from 3 to 19 May 2019 at the Clothing Store, Carriageworks. It represents the first exhibition by the New York-based artist in Australia.

At the heart of the project is a set of metabolic processes and experiments. A group of “cultivators” continually mix materials sourced from the region, including sand, silt, clay, phosphates, lime, spent grain, cuttlebone, legumes, coffee and green waste to create a new soil mixture or neosoil. Testing and monitoring its composition as it changes, the cultivators oversee almost 300 tonnes of material, which fills the ground-floor rooms of the Clothing Store. The project functions as a depot for the arrival, combination, and dispersion of this neosoil, which visitors are invited to take home for their own projects.

Within the world created by Absorption, Raza has also invited other artists to use the installation for their own purposes. Daniel Boyd’s work creates a porous light throughout, while Agatha Gothe-Snape’s wearable pieces for the cultivators weave relations. Khaled Sabsabi has buried a grid of turf underneath the soil, meditating on the hidden reality beneath the everyday. Jana Hawkins-Andersen’s clay works are broken up to enrich the soil, and Megan Alice Clune’s sound piece reacts to its changing state. Dean Cross’s work introduces a kilogram of earth from 1000km away, and Brian Fuata’s performative inhabitation ‘haunts’ the space.

Developed in collaboration with a team of scientists at the University of Sydney Institute of Agriculture led by soil scientist Alex McBratney, Raza’s project draws together the approaches and ontologies of art and science. The project aims to bring the biological substrate of life into the foreground, as a living mesh of organic, mineral, and opaque aspects. In Absorption, these elements combine in an artistic world that is in dialogue with the processes of decay and new growth.

Absorption features a public program series of choreographic, musical, and pedagogical interventions. This includes a pop concert by Chun Yin Rainbow Chan; a new choreographic piece by Ivey Wawn in collaboration with Ivan Cheng, Daniel Jenatsch, Eugene Choi, and Taree Sansbury; an event hosted by Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation; and a reading hosted by feminist reading group Composting.

Kaldor Public Art Projects Director John Kaldor AO said: “I’m delighted that we are doing a project with Asad Raza, whose work very much reflects the spirit of our time. Raza shows us that art, enlisting the help of science, can draw our attention to environmental concerns. Raza’s collaboration with Australian artists is an exciting completion of the project.” 

Carriageworks Chair Sam Mostyn said: “This is the second time Carriageworks and Kaldor Public Art Projects have partnered on a major presentation for Sydney audiences, and we are thrilled to be working on this occasion with Asad Raza. Raza’s dynamic and collaborative project extends across our community of visitors and engages a number of our current studio artists.”