Friday 21st May 2021 to
Saturday 12th June 2021
Wasted Voyages in the Thames Estuary is a collaboration between YoHa (Matsuko Yokokoji & Graham Harwood), local people in South Essex, Metal and the Digital Culture Unit, Goldsmiths, University of London to engage in a series of critical voyages, conversations into the materiality, culture, history of waste, as it affects the more than human environment of the Thames Estuary its peoples and the wider public.
Each voyage engages in the historic and contemporary disposal of sewage and effluent, industrial and domestic rubbish, and bodies, as it relates to public sites. YoHa’s first voyage is shared at the Bird Hide at Wat Tyler Country Park in Pitsea which overlooks the second largest landfill in the UK.
Waste tips like Pitsea have become successful spaces where wildlife has flourished. This flourishing can be seen at Canvey tip, Two tree island and Mucking Flats in Essex and Deadman’s and Burntwick Island in Kent. Such spaces are haunted by the toxicity that lays just beneath the surface. Before 1994 and the introduction of the Waste Management Licensing Regulations by the UK government no records were kept of what was dumped. The only people who know what went into the ground or out to sea and under what conditions were the delivery drivers, barge masters and others who delivered, buried and dumped the waste. Most of the people who worked on the sites before 1994 are now in their 70s and 80s and it is vital that these witnesses are listened to before the knowledge they have obtained is lost forever.
Witness seminars with elders who have vital and situated knowledge of waste and the flows of the river create audio tracks for a video work that record the voyages made by boat to waste sites.