Image: Nadege Philippe-Janon,  Surface Tensions , 2018, single channel video

Image: Nadege Philippe-Janon, Surface Tensions, 2018, single channel video

NADINE PHILLIPE-JANON (TAS) - Surface tensions

FEldark: 5th - 21st September 2019


Every wet season like clockwork, a daily downpour of rain attempts to reclaim the vast lake Texcoco that once expanded over Mexico City before it was drained dry by the invading Spanish. A small tangle of canals on the outskirts of the city represents the last vestiges of the pre-Hispanic canal system, and is also the last remaining home of an unusual amphibian. The Axolotl is a salamander that has been the focus of endless scientific studies due to their unique abilities, particularly their remarkable power of regeneration, they have also frequently appeared in the arts, literature and pop culture, have stood in as a metaphor for Mexican identity and a symbol of conservation. Though many have observed their inert bodies and pulsing gills in homes and pet stores across the world, the Axolotl is almost extinct in the wild. This "wild" home that was once fed by natural springs, is now entirely fed by treated sewerage water, and is filled with introduced prey species and heavy metals. Contrasting footage of the Xochimilco canal system with scenes from a local aquarium, Surface Tensionsquestions what is “wilderness”, and playfully explores the interconnections and paradoxes that exist between humans, our surrounding environments, and the non-human beings we share them with.

Created during a residency in Mexico City, supported by the Arts Tasmania Claudio Alcorso Grant.