Biennale of Sydney

Adrift Lab

Stomach contents from a Flesh-footed shearwater. Image courtesy Dr. Ian Hutton

Adrift Lab (Detached)

Dr. Jennifer Lavers

Born 1979 in Alberta, Canada
Lives and works in Tasmania, Australia

Dr. Alexander Bond

Born 1983 Nova Scotia, Canada
Lives and works in Milton Keynes, Tring; London, United Kingdom; and Hobart, Australia

Dr. Ian Hutton

Born 1950 in Sydney, Australia
Lives and works on Lord Howe Island, Australia

Adrift Lab (Detached) is commissioned by Detached Cultural Organisation. Penny Clive, Michael Bugelli, Matthew Lamb, Sergei Nester, Mark Young and Dean Ware.


Adrift Lab is a dedicated group of researchers studying all things adrift in the ocean, including plastic, chemicals and wildlife.  Adrift Lab analyses data gathered at sea and on beaches to identify long-term trends and quantify the impact of marine plastic pollution. Their projects range from monitoring sentinel species, to developing tools to quantify sub-lethal effects following ingestion by wildlife. They use the information generated from their research outputs to engage the broader community and inform policy-making, with an aim to drive positive change for the ecology of our world’s oceans.

Detached Cultural Organisation responds to the challenges, complexity, and resonance of Australian and international contemporary art and society. Fostering a culture of curiosity, as expressed through art, science, education and democracy, Detached offers an autonomous platform for the development, presentation and preservation of artworks and cultural projects. It provides opportunities and support for artists, curators, critics, and scholars to contribute to contemporary society, through the questioning of, and engagement with our cultural heritage. Established in 2008, Detached continues to be independent, elusive, and perpetually renewing.

Adrift Lab identifies long-term trends and quantify the impact of marine plastic pollution on the oceans, its wildlife, and on ourselves. Such work is often hidden from our everyday lives. But for the duration of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, Adrift Lab, in collaboration with Detached Cultural Organisation, will occupy a space on Cockatoo Island to offer a rare glimpse of these edge worlds.

An arrangement of wooden tables, reclaimed from various rubbish dumps, will display a number of specimens, thousands of images, hours of video, and years of research. Each table references the kitchen table in Adrift Lab’s home base on Lord Howe Island, the backstage of science: a site of conversation, intellectual discussion, and far-ranging debate, driven by curiosity and detached inquiry, a place to debrief after each day in the field, to console, to laugh, and to prepare oneself for the following day’s reckoning with the arc of human indifference. Together, the tables display what has been gathered from these endless discussions and diurnal fieldwork.

This exhibit is an invitation for each of us to shed complacency and to continue the conversation, in our everyday lives, at our own tables.

Text courtesy Detached.