Corie Audette

Toxic Utopia

"In a future not too far from now,
lies the wondrous land of Toxic Utopia.
Created out of man’s dystopia,
during times of war and scientific revolution,
Toxic Utopia promises all a great solution.
Experience a second kind of Eden,
with two by two, life mutates through
the altered creatures who suffered,
each and everyone did so for the new and better.
Come and wander while you watch and ponder,
the Toxic Utopia is waiting just for you."

      This piece renders a possible world that we humans have created from our excessive use of nuclear power and energy. There are remnants of historical symbols seen throughout this piece that pertain to this form of power or decay. For example, the large sun is in the shape of the radiation symbol and around the sun are the words J. Robert Oppenheimer quoted when he witness the detonation of the first atomic bomb. This sun stands as the beginning of this new toxic world, while the rays from it are man’s effects on his environment. The matching mutated creatures each express the disasters or devastation of radiation to specific sites including New Mexico, Bikini Atoll and Japan. It is evident even in today’s world we cannot escape this universal issue. Some influential artists for this piece include Shahzia Sikander, Cristina de los Santos, Kiki Smith and Andrea Loefke. These artists are able to combine symbolism, color, shapes and materials that can be seen in Toxic Utopia. The marks and tears of the tape and paper activate this environment and show how it is in flux; ever changing and ever mutating. The neon colors help illuminate the radiant space and creatures, tracing their movements, thoughts and breaths. The graphite drawings can stand autonomously or operate together as a presented and narrated scene. The layering of symbols such as power grids, cooling reactors, radioactive waste and climate change, remind viewers how real and close this wondrous utopia can be.

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