Beyond Ruin: Mother Eagle

For the exhibition, Katie chose to submit five pieces of work that relate to the invitation of Lost Species Day in a number of ways.

To learn the full story of each, you can read the blog posts on the Mother Eagle website. Katie explains:

The first piece is ‘We Will Suppress You’, the iguana. This explores the ways that indigenous lifeways are suppressed and criticised whilst structural white supremacy and invasiveness as a concept are upheld. It’s about invasive species and how we should apply discernment and critical thinking when we are listening to conservation stories, and always asking ‘who does this narrative serve? Who benefits from people believing this story?’ (See Katie’s video about the piece here.)

The Emancipator’, which is the vulture piece, is about industrial/ Western capitalist systems – in this case, the routine use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in cattle, which has caused the red-headed vulture species to become nearly extinct. Global population of vultures have halved every year since the 90s, and in India there has been a 90% decrease in the last 10 years. This has forced ancient Parsee funeral customs to stop. In Parsee culture fire, earth and water are sacred, and so their ancient funerary customs centre on excarnation. They believe that vultures serve as holy intermediaries between earth and sky. Their dead are placed on a tower where vultures liberate the soul by consuming the body. But these vultures are so rare now that the bodies are not consumed quickly enough, and their slow decomposition poses a pathological threat to human life, meaning these ancient holy customs have had to cease. 

Mount Delectable’ features the Halloween crab of Costa Rica, and speaks to the issues of wildlife trafficking, exotic pets and zoonotic disease transmission.

Then there is the salmon piece, ‘I Am The Trees And I Am You‘ which is about indigenous lifeways, environmental violence, land grabbing, and river ecology. When we protect salmon and river ecology we honour millennia of indigenous cultures that have evolved alongside salmon. Culture and livelihood are completely disrupted and almost irreversibly destroyed by globalist consumerism and colonial and neocolonial cultures of violence.

Lastly there is ‘In An English Country Garden (Finders Keepers)’, my most recent piece, the cat skeleton. It tells an extraordinary story of colonial violence, looting and wealth extraction – the account of 300, 000 sacrificed and mummified cats discovered in the Egyptian desert in 1888. Excavated, ground up, and sold by the tonne in a Liverpool auction house to be spread on English fields as fertiliser. (Watch Katie’s video about Finders Keepers here.) Here is the poem I wrote to accompany the piece:

You were a prayer
A promise
A god
A life
A victim.

You are dust
Far from home
And trodden

I remember you.