This survey exhibition brings together two major works by Australian artist Bonita Ely, documenting darkly humorous dystopian futures wrought by environmental degradation and genetic engineering.
‘We Live to be Surprised’ 1989/2019 is Ely’s latest iteration of ‘snabbits’ – half snail/half rabbits. Engineered as a food source for an over-populated planet by a futuristic agribusiness regime, these initially benign creatures have evolved into a feral monoculture, peeking out from the rubble of redundant technologies.
Shown in Australia for the first time since its debut at documenta14 in 2017, ‘Plastikus Progressus’ 2017/19 parodies natural history dioramas. Set in 2054, it details the extraordinary taxonomies of creatures genetically engineered to consume plastic and, in the process, clean up our mess in the streets, oceans and rivers. The installation includes a new section examining the plastic pollution of the Brisbane River.
With her characteristic wry satire, Ely’s works imagine an impossible future where nature has adapted, with the assistance of science, and flourished despite the devastating effects of plastic pollution and human-induced climate change.
Image: Bonita Ely ‘We Live to Be Surprised’ (detail) 1989/2019. Installation at Southwark Park Galleries, London. Plaster, mixed media, dimensions variable.