Future Stratigraphy 2016

Future Stratigraphy
Exhibition: 6 – 29 October 2016
Exhibition opening: 5 October, 6-8pm
Masterclass: 17 October, 2-6pm
Symposium: 18 October, 2-6pm
Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, Balmain Road, Rozelle NSW 2039

Concern for current ecological and environmental crises are pivotal to many artists’ practices. Their works invite unique, challenging and tangible ways of grappling with the repercussions of human impact on the earth. Future Stratigraphy focuses on art practices that metaphorically and actually engage with various layers of complex geological strata showing traces of human impact, commonly referred to as the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is a proposed epoch that begins when human activities started to have a significant global impact on earth’s geology and ecosystems; causing mass extinctions of plant and animal species, polluting the land and oceans, altering subterranean, aquatic and atmospheric layers. The International Geological Congress has recently voted to proceed with formally recognizing the Anthropocene as a stratigraphic epoch, an officially recognized subdivision of geological time. In a multi-disciplinary response to these discourses, Future Stratigraphy asks, ‘how will current human activities reveal themselves in the layers of the future?’ Questioning our understandings of deep and future time, engaging human relationships with matter and materiality, these art practices explore traces and scars of human presence on earth, challenging how we work with, exploit, understand and attempt to rehabilitate our planet.

Future Stratigraphy program at Sydney College of the Arts


Future Stratigraphy invite.jpg

Future Stratigraphy exhibition: 6-29 October 2016, included work by John Roloff, Josh Wodak, Tim Collins and Reiko Goto, Tracey Clement, David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, Elaine Gan, Kath Fries, Madeleine Boyd, Sean O’Connell, Penny Dunstan, Bryden Williams, Emma Robertson, Dell Walker and Kenneth Mitchell.
The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue with essays by Bronwyn Lay, Kath Fries and Madeleine Boyd – download here

Penny soil profiles cropped sm.jpg

Image: Penny Dunstan, Soil Monliths, 2016, samples of reconstruction mine soils: natural soil, rehabilitated soil 2 years, rehabilitated soil 22 years. 120x45x12cm each. Courtesy the artist.

Masterclass: Monday 17 October 2-6pm
With international artist John Roloff, the class explored site-engagement processes focusing on Callan Park as the site of Roloff’s Sydney project, The Sea within the Land. The masterclass involved walking the site; discussing the area’s past, present and future (in relation to geology, mapping, flora and fauna, and human engagement – the Gadigal and Wangal traditional custodians, history as colonial estate and psychiatric hospital, and current uses); and an outside workshop with above-ground technology.

Symposium: Tuesday 18 October 2-6pm

SCA Auditorium, Sydney College of the Arts

The Future Stratigraphy symposium explored ways of understanding and envisioning the materiality of country and landscape across disciplines, cultures and time.

Welcome – Oliver Smith, New Materialism in Contemporary Art research cluster SCA Acknowledgement of Country – Mariko Smith, Wingara Mura Fellow SCA
Introduction – Tracey Clement, artist, arts writer and current PhD candidate at SCA


Keynote Lecture – John Roloff – ‘Sentient Terrains IV’
John Roloff is an artist and professor at San Francisco Art Institute. He works conceptually with site, process and natural systems. With a background in science and geology, Roloff’s work engages poetic and site-specific relationships between material, concept and performance in the domains of geology, ecology, architecture, ceramics, industry and mining, metabolic systems and history. Roloff’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, UC Berkeley Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Institution, Photoscene Cologne, the Venice Architectural and Art Biennales. He has received fellowships from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim Foundation and California Arts Council. Roloff is represented by Anglim Gilbert Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

Matt Poll – ‘Glimpsing landscapes of the past through stone tool technologies’
Matt Poll is the Assistant Curator of the Macleay Museum Indigenous Heritage Collections and the University of Sydney’s Repatriation Project Officer. He has previously worked as the Artistic Director of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists cooperative as well as other positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Wollongong City Gallery. Poll’s current research project seeks to further develop methods of understanding the ways contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island artists have used museum collections, historic records and archival materials in the reconstruction of cultural identities, exploring how visual artists in particular have developed auto ethnographic methods of engaging with historical information outside of academic frameworks.


Ron Boyd – ‘A Marine Geologist’s View of the Anthropocene’
Ron Boyd is a conjoint professor at the University of Newcastle, he has worked as a marine geologist with forty years experience in the field. Boyd has published over 200 scientific articles and book chapters. Recently he has been working with multi beam imagery in marine geology researching seismic and sediments off Australia and the USA. Boyd has worked with Larry Mayer at UNH/CCOM and also runs his own research voyages off the East Coast of Australia from coast to deep ocean.

Panel discussion – ‘Future Stratigraphy’
– John Roloff, Matt Poll, Ron Boyd and Tracey Clement.


Artist talks – Future Stratigraphy, SCA Galleries
Sean O’Connell, Madeleine Boyd, Penny Dunstan, Emma Robertson, Kath Fries, Dell Walker, Tracey Clement and Kenneth Mitchell.



Image: John Roloff, Displaced Sea / Seeking the Permanente, 2014, inkjet print on drafting film, 60x120cm. Courtesy the artist and Anglim Gilbert Gallery, San Francisco.

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