From the affective encounter to unfolding a shadow country in the Anthropocene-in-the-making
Keywords:wit(h)nessing, affective encounter, particular planetary aesthetics, shadow places, shadows trace, McArthur River Mine, postcards, geopolitics of extraction, Anthropocene-in-the-making, Kathryn Yusoff, investigative art
Melodious and unmistakable. Brolgas are overhead, crossing country. They bugle on the fly. In a Sydney gallery, Elder, eminent artist and activator Nancy Yukuwal McDinny scans the postcard I hand her. An aerial photograph of a zinc refinery on the east coast of Queensland connected to the catastrophic McArthur River Mine in her Country (Garrwa, Yanyuwa) near Borroloola in the Northern Territory, Australia. She pauses, steadies her hand, looks more closely, then speaks.
This paper presents the project “Greetings from Zincland: Unfolding a Shadow Country” associated with Postcards from the Anthropocene: Unsettling the Geopolitics of Representation, an international exhibition and conference held in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2017, and recently published as a book (Cincik and Torres-Campos). Greetings from Zincland, a postcard I sent across the equator as a digital image, a recorded voice reading, and a critical text, is a dispatch from belonged-by country and its shadow places. It recalibrates vintage 1950s’ imagery of local tourist views composed in the North Queensland port city of Townsville—in Gurambilbarra Wulgurukaba and Bindal Countries—with one contemporary sighting of a twenty-first century becoming. Here, I introduce and map a scattered particular-planetary shadow country found in the glare of bleaching tropical light. With this, I unfold a wit(h)nessing story from one shadow place of unexpected connection and confrontation in the antipodean Anthropocene-in-the-making (Yusoff). If a picture postcard is a material form of encounter and exchange, an affect charged one is also an im/material dispatch. And, Auckland, you are one of my shadow places.
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