Colin Lyons: We will find salvation in strategic chemical spills
Fusing printmaking, sculpture, and site-specific installation, Lyons’ work employs the chemistry and rituals of printmaking to consider preservation in an age of planned obsolescence and resource depletion. His recent projects reflect on sacrificial landscapes, geo-engineering, extraction, alchemy, and brownfield rehabilitation.
We will find salvation in strategic chemical spills proposes speculative climate prototypes that borrow from practical alchemy and contemporary climate-engineering models.
This exhibition weaves together prototypes that desalinate and refreeze sea ice, phyto-remediate contaminated soils using invasive plant species, and fertilize coastal ecosystems using dissolved industrial artifacts.
These strategies form contingency plans which, employed alongside mitigation efforts, strive to preserve a close approximation of our present ecosystem. However, instead of practical geoengineering prototypes, these techno-solutions offer little more than time capsules, laying bare the folly of our desire to find salvation in the fine balance of strategic chemical spills, and proposing rituals which blend the sacred and scientific to question what kind of nature we hope to approximate within a techno-solutionist future. Geo-engineering stands as a kind of messianic figure for the planet; proposing to wash away the sins of the Anthropocene.
The centerpiece of this exhibition is Operation Habbakuk developed on Örö Island, a former tsarist military fortress in the Finnish archipelago. This project takes its departure from a failed 1942 proposal to construct a massive, ice-based aircraft carrier code-named Operation Habbakuk, and integrates three speculative geo-engineering proposals which aim to thicken the rapidly vanishing sea ice.
Colin Lyons grew up in the birthplace of the North American oil industry, Petrolia, Ontario; an experience that has fueled his interests in industrial ruins and sacrificial landscapes. Lyons’ work has been shown in over 30 solo exhibitions and site-specific installations, including recent site-based projects located in tailing piles, decommissioned landfills, historic flood infrastructure, remote islands, and urban brownfields. Gallery projects have been shown at International Print Center New York, Krakow International Print Triennial, International Printmaking Biennial Douro, Museum London, SPACES, Platform Stockholm, aceartinc, OBORO, and The Soap Factory, among others. In recent years, Lyons has participated in residencies at ÖRES (Örö Island, Finland), Frans Masereel Centrum (Kasterlee, Belgium), The MacDowell Fellowship (Peterborough, New Hampshire), Rabbit Island Residency (Lake Superior), The Grant Wood Fellowship (The University of Iowa), Klondike Institute of Art & Culture (Dawson City, Yukon), and Kala Art Institute (Berkeley, California).
He would like to acknowledge the generous support of Canada Council for the Arts.