Photo: Chris Denoon

Photo: Chris Denoon

To Be We Need to Know the River


Solo show at Lot projects, London, UK

Curator: Nastia Svarevska

Mixed media installation

12 prints of digital drawings mounted on honeycomb, 29.7 x 42 cm each; 1 print of digital drawing mounted on honeycomb, 59.4 x 42 cm; 3D animation and real-time screen recorded video, sound, 1920 x 1080px, 9'58"; 3D animation, sound, 1920 x 1080px, 9'58"; cork sheet, 80 x 35 x 0.2 cm; 8 objects 3D-printed in PLA recycled plastic, various sizes

Merging scientific facts, science fiction and 3D worldbuilding, To Be We Need to Know the River speculates different possibilities for re-worlding, centred around new symbiotic relationships between humans, non- humans, and nature. As the threat of climate change intensifies, it forces us to confront difficult questions about the future of our planet. What might Earth look like? Can it continue to support both human and non- human life? How will ecological, existential, legal, and political frameworks shape our world? And what can we learn from our non-human neighbours?

The exhibition unfolds in a series of vignettes that chronicle the passage of time. 445 Million Years Ago to Today in 12 prints interprets climate change throughout history, from the formation of continents and global coolings and warmings to the consequences of volcanic eruptions and changes in the ocean, which have always provided the basis for life on Earth through water pipelines.

Accompanied by an AI-generated soundscape, the synchronised 3D animation works give centre stage to the non-human protagonists – blue mussels, lichens, dung beetles, and mycelium. Collapse, Shelter, and Ecotopia addresses the catastrophic damage of anthropocentric thinking and prototypes collaborative strategies for ecological survival while spotlighting different ways of existence adopted by non-humans, which benefit all living things in various ecosystems. Network of Mutuality speculates possible scenarios for the future where non- humans are recovering Earth from human impact. Hyphae and Algal Cells spotlight the microcosmic organisms that orchestrate planetary-scale processes, their shapes mimicking the parts of mycelium and lichens. Being Together / Camaraderie is an ode to the coexistence of many creatures. 

To Be We Need to Know the River also includes a publication titled Beyond Human Horizons with contributions from Micol Curatolo, Martina Francone, Fiona Glen, Hayley Harrison, Chantelle Mitchell, Sabīne Šnē, and Jaxon Waterhouse.

Additionally, 445 Million Years Ago to Today is augmented by audio and text descriptions created by writer Joe Rizzo Naudi. Drawing from conversations in front of the artwork with the artist and curator, they translate the artwork into language, providing visitors with a parallel experience in a non-visual form.


*To Be We Need to Know the River takes its title from a poem by Ursula K. Le Guin.


Images courtesy Sabīne Šnē. Photos by Chris Denoon.


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