The Inversion

Image by Ana Tiquia

MOD. – Museum of Discovery, University of South Australia

The Inversion is a lecture-performance and ritual exploring human-plastic relations amidst peak plastic: a phenomenon marked by its imperceptibility, unknown potential for toxicity, and uneven effects. As plastics steadily accumulate in every living system on Earth, The Inversion asks how humans can engender good relations with plastics, our “toxic progeny”[1], and how material engagement with plastics might help us to think time, agency and futures differently.

The Inversion grew out of a virtual artist residency with MOD. from August - September 2020. Originally conceived as a gallery residency that would explore with visitors the material, temporal and ethical entanglements we share with our everyday objects; due to Covid-19 restrictions these explorations were relocated to the home. Hosting an online open call for people to nominate an object of significance they ‘couldn’t live without,’ several objects were shortlisted for materio-temporal research, including a small, plastic promotional toy in the shape of a dog.

       Image by Ana Tiquia
Screenshot – The Inversion

Can we future with plastic waste?

The Inversion evolved from month-long exploration of the material origins and futures of plastics through research and exploration with single-use and waste plastics encountered in the  home. The Inversion explores the potential of plastics as ‘space-time travel companions,’ inviting participants to contemplate their material and temporal entanglements with plastic discards before collectively releasing them in a group ritual. The Inversion created a ritual space on Zoom where participants could consider the materio-temporal dimensions of plastics and their accumulation through multi-sensory engagement with plastic waste and guided visualisations that journey from the fossil origins of plastics to futures of polymer and additive accumulation in soil, ocean, atmospheric and endocrine systems.

Developed within a domestic space and designed as a ritual that participants would join from their respective homes, The Inversion centres the home rubbish bin as a site of transformative potential. The Inversion asks whether we can reassign plastics from ‘bin’ to ‘kin’ [2] proposing an intervention and new ritual practice by up-ending a bin to create an ‘altar’ that elevates and exalts plastic discards, rather than concealing and ‘binning’ them.

The Inversion ultimately asks us to reconsider disposability, recognise plastic’s enduring qualities, and ask what implications the mass production, use and fast disposal of plastics has for Earth inhabitants and descendents.


Image by Ana Tiquia

Artist: Ana Tiquia
Commissioned by MOD.

[1]  Davis, Heather. "Toxic Progeny: The Plastisphere and Other Queer Futures." philoSOPHIA 5, no. 2 (2015): 231-50. 

[2]  Haraway, Donna. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Cthulucene. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2016.