Desentierros: stories of clays, deep waters, migrations, and unwanted findings.

Amsterdam, 2023
Installation and somatic activation
Variable dimensions, ceramics: earthenware and stoneware, glass, pine wood, sludge from Amsterdam canals, unbaked clay from Waal River, and other origins.

Over time, Amsterdam’s waterlogged territory has served as a site of convergence for multiple migrations: human and more-than-human. Clay, sand, and lime sediments that traveled from the inland through river flows have accumulated in its canals, preserving memories of water systems and landscapes. Significant amounts of heavy metals, including mercury and lead, can be detected in these sediments, revealing one footprint of careless industrial waste management in these territories. To expand dryland areas, part of these sediments has been used as landfilling material. Some time ago, while searching for local clays, I gathered some of them in Amsterdam Noord. This polluted sediment unearthing has grown into a somatic, bowel-uncovering research on toxicity and filth.

This installation and guided somatic activation are invitations to take the carefully hidden reality of heavy metal polluted soil and water and put it over the table. To sit with our complex entanglements with them and sense the effects of toxicity unleashed by global capitalist necropolitics in our intricate living systems.  Following generative somatic and embodied social justice lineages, I propose tracking the sensations they provoke in our bodies as a possible start toward different forms of resistance, activation, and remediation. Ancient deities of filth and medicinal plants are invited to care for us during this uneasy quest.

Desentierros was my  MA Ecologies of Transformation Graduation project at Sandberg Instituut