Tomorrow’s Cement Feeds On Us


This installation explores the pasts and futures of Europe’s waste legacies, from continued structures of environmental racism, to new forms of concrete-waste monopolies. Since China banned solid waste imports in 2018, eastern European countries such as Romania have been absorbing large amounts of European waste flows, with waste imported and smuggled, and then dumped or burnt. Waste-as-energy is an emerging energy source, where solid waste is used as a fuel within factories, that—while containing reformed petrochemicals, creating noxious smog and polluting soil and water—is considered an ‘alternative’ energy, due to IPCC loopholes. The incineration of 1 Mg of municipal waste in waste-as-energy incinerators releases of around 1mg of carbon dioxide. Although this carbon makes a real contribution to the greenhouse effect, only 35% of the waste (understood to be plastics of fossil origin) is officially classified as “climate-relevant CO2 emissions” and considered within IPCC global analysis. All of the other carbon, forever chemicals, and pollutants are not classified, and therefore waste-as-energy is classed as a viable “green” alternative fuel.

Tomorrow's Cement Feeds On Us asks how we can cultivate resistance to these toxic flows, imagining alternatives to cement that utilise the plants and fibres grown in toxic sites, to remediate the water and soil and store the toxicity within the built environment. Grass insulation blocks, metallic grass glazed tiles, tilia-tree mats, polluted soil stonewear and stinging-nettle rugs are constructed from trees and plants that have grown around waste-fuelled cement factories in the UK and Romania. These materials are displayed amongst soil contamination studies and collected plant specimen from these sites.
The Cloud Is A Stomach  

Foxes that feed on chickens, that lay eggs from birds that eat berries, that grow from bushes on upturned grounds, with roots that stretch amongst metals and branches that shade chickens that are eaten by foxes, that scavenge for parts…. Scraping through imagery across cloud-based datasets that are never fully real, only a combination of the wastes of other images, depicting many rearranged worlds that have already happened. 

Half of all European cement is now created using energy from waste to fire their kilns. Tomorrow’s Cement Feeds On Us looks to understand the new worlds we create when we burn waste as fuel, focusing on the emerging collaboration between cement factories and waste industries. Within the installation, the film The Cloud Is A Stomach uses Stable Diffusion AI image generation, through linguistic instructions that filter through the wastes of digital cloud imagery, and regurgitate stories of the trees, creatures, ecologies and people living within the shadow of the waste cloud. Considering these scenes through a “chemical gaze”, the film sees the landscape as a body, and the waste-cloud as a cinematographic device.