Between 2012-2014 a collection of unfinished cups of coffee began building in my studio. In some of them the coffee dried-up, began to mold and crack -like dry soil. These physical manifestations were a visual echo of my previous works “Jezreel Valley 2002” and “Hulleh Valley 2005”.
The coffee grounds did not foresee my future. Instead it reminded me of my past and helped me decide how to continue.
Following my work “Jezreel Valley 2002” which was based on a map of the area, I decided to think about creating a container for liquids built in the shape of that map. The action itself highlights the arbitrariness of the defining and bounding territories by taking the lines from the map and translating them into borders that bound liquids from expanding against their natural physics.
I chose an agricultural area creating a set of juxtapositions. Agriculture that grows mold, which is based on spores from the air and not seeds from the ground -an agriculture of derelict and passivity and not planning and maintenance.
A map is a symbolic representation of an area of space, used for orientation and navigation. Lewis Carroll in his novel “Sylvie and Bruno” describes a fictional map with a one-to-one scale, so does Jorge Luis Borges has a short story “On Exactitude in Science” where he describes an empire with a map also at a “mile-to-mile scale” -both of these are examples when a map corresponds exactly with the physical area it represents.
The “Murray–Darling Basin” installation isn’t congruent with the basin itself -but it does have a one-to-one correspondence in the dimension of time and duration. The mold which is recognized with neglect and decay are what give the work a sense of time and vitality.
Subjugating the work “Murray–Darling Basin” to time, is the point where the work stops being a simple projection of the physical place. The work becomes a Pinocchio of sorts, an uncontrollable organic body that cannot be tamed. It’s mutation over time is affected by the site of the installation -heat, light, climate, biological organisms in the air and organisms emitted from the visitors’ bodies
Murray-Darling Basin, 2022
coffee grounds, sugar, recycled plastic
Courtesy the artist
Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with assistance from Artis
An understanding of time and its constant movement is at the heart of Gal Weinstein’s creations. Using organic materials, he makes living forms that change with the passing of time. For Murray-Darling Basin (2022) the artist has created a living translation of the Murray-Darling Basin from organic materials, to challenge our preconceived ideas of mapping and geography.
Open to the elements at The Cutaway, this map grows mold as it receives spores carried through the air. Changing in response to activity in its location, this map challenges conventions of mapping and cartography, which understand geography as static, passive and unchanging. Its existence highlights the futility of trying to impose qualities of permanence upon living things whose constitution is constantly in a state of flux. While man-made boundaries made across landmasses must be frequented and maintained in order to remain true, rivers and creeks are natural borders in nature that cannot be altered or moved easily.
Conservative and popular understandings of rural Australia see it as frozen in time, unchanging and resistant to change. The environmental transformations happening to the Murray-Darling Basin as a result of extractive human activity however, are very real. Gal Weinstein reminds us that the Murray-Darling Basin is an infinitely complex and ever-changing ecosystem, that is alive to which we must listen.
Subjugating the work “Murray–Darling Basin” to time, is the point where the work stops being a simple projection of the physical place. The work becomes a Pinocchio of sorts, an uncontrollable organic body that cannot be tamed. Its mutation over time is affected by the site of the installation – heat, light, climate, biological organisms in the air and organisms emitted from the visitors’ bodies. – Gal Weinstein