Abiotic Perspectives?



abiotic matter, durational performance, site responsive art, White Geology, masculine parody, secular pilgrimage, Anthropocene, Kathyrn Yusoff, geoaesthetics, geohumanities


I want to begin with an image of the vast ephemeral salt lake called Wilkinkarra/Lake Mackay, sitting in Pintupi Country in the remote Western Desert of Western Australia. This was a key site for my early research into ways to reimagine abiotic perspectives—to work with a ‘geologic’ using creative methods of site responsive artworks. I document these explorations of place as a means to explore my attempts and struggles to unpack complexities in the colonial settler spatiotemporal imaginary of the environment in the Anthropocene. My art practice is informed by the concept of uncritical “White Geology” as identified by the inhuman geographer, Kathryn Yusoff. In particular, the Eurocentric sociohistorical entanglements that help maintain a hierarchical outlook regarding the perception of abiotic matter. In September 2020, following my introduction to this approach at Ngā Tūtaki – Encounter/s, I completed three experimental site responsive artworks on a field trip to the Jack Hills in Wajarri Yamaji Country, in the Murchison district of Western Australia. This creative focus piece discusses secular pilgrimage and presents my durational performance art from that project.

Author Biography

Rob Kettels, Curtin University

Rob Kettels is an artist and PhD candidate based in Perth, Australia. His art practice aims to problematise how the geologic is imagined and represented in contemporary Western culture—raising further questions concerning conventionalised geo/social narratives and formations of knowledge. Broadly, his interdisciplinary art practice focuses on geoaesthetics and human-earth relations.

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Creative Practice Focus