Sydney Estuary



Commissioned by MIRVAC
Curated and managed by Lou Weiss at Broached Commissions

What insights can artistic research data produce in the scientific analysis of the natural archive? In practicing aesthetic attunement to material intra-actions between nonhuman entities, artist and researcher Xandra van der Eijk addresses the value of artmaking with, through, and between the materiality of place. Visualizing anthropogenic markers present in the sediment samples of Sydney Harbour, one of the most polluted estuaries in the world, she undertakes a hybridization of artistic and scientific method.

Artistic experiments on polluted sediment and the anthropogenic evolution of minerals

In 2019, Lou Weiss, curator of Broached Commissions, offered the opportunity to pitch for a public artwork in Sydney, Australia. Building on the Future Remnants project, the research into the surroundings of the proposed location of the artwork, the harbor area, soon revealed a possible focus on pollution in the sediments of Sydney estuary, which is one of the most modified and polluted estuaries in the world1. What followed was a case study and experimentation process expanding on the thoughts about mineral evolution and toxicity. It provided a unique opportunity for engaging directly with the toxic materiality that lies submerged in the stratigraphy of the seafloor of Sydney estuary.

  1. Daniel Montoya, “Pollution in Sydney Harbour: sewage, toxic chemicals and microplastics.” Sydney: NSW Parliamentary Research Service, 2015. 

Sample set, working with the Sydney Estuary sediments

I wrote a peer-reviewed article about the research process on "Anthropocene Curriculum". The public artwork is being produced presently. Once it is revealed, I will update this page with more information.

Core storage at Sydney University
Sampling sediment after a heavy downpour