Seeding Grounds: Working Beyond Arcadia in The Pyrocene

A trio of digital images showing people working on grassy open landscapes including by erecting a fencepost.

Process triptych: A coalition of rangers and farmers remove extant fencing across the site, keeping only the posts that lay along the burn line. These posts become the markers for the formation of the fireline remembrance trail, whereby hikers, rangers, farmers and visitors can fill the seed cans with seed as small gestures toward land reconciliation.

by Stewart Crane Sarris (MLA I ’24)

From drought, to fire, Australia’s landscapes face multiple existential threats. A response to the tectonic loss of life in the 2019 ‘Black Summer’ bushfires, Seeding Grounds: Working Beyond Arcadia in the Pyrocene, seeks to reckon with Australia’s perception of country that has engendered its ongoing dance with ecological annihilation. Proposing the establishment of the Fireline National Park along Kangaroo Island’s 2019 ‘Black Summer’ burn scar, the work inverts the methods and means by which land ‘management’ has engendered the disconnect between country and process. Utilising the traditional interventions of the National Park, fence post, rain water water tank, and seed bank, the thesis inverts colonial land management infrastructures in an attempt to cultivate acts of disturbance as a means of growing ecologies forward into uncertain climatic futures. In so doing, Seeding Grounds resists the impulse of a static preservationism, rejecting the preeminent consumption | conservation paradigm in favour of acknowledging that our landscapes are embedded in processes of decay and renewal. Here, the anachronistic mythology of a static ‘Arcadia’ yields to an understanding of country as archival palimpsest, one that envisions a semantic shift from disturbance as destruction to phenomena as process. In this way, Seeding Grounds, brings awareness to Australia’s threatened landscapes, positing that phenomenological processes can perform as a form of generative catharsis through which socio-cultural relationships toward the natural world can be novelly (re)built.