Maria-Ioli Tzanetaki, Sofia Casarin. Sofia Gallarate, Soukeina El Isbihani, Julian Roeckert, Allesandro Sansottera, Bojana Popadic
Chthonic machine installed in an area of Deptford which looks like a landscape in transition, part wasteland, part building site, part historical place, the work consists of a plaque attached to the wall of a railway bridge over Deptford creek and adjacent to and now part of a walkway through this landscape. It is within sight of the Lawes factory site and brings new perspectives to this industrial landscape. Firstly, the plaque ‘looks official’, looks like it ‘belongs’. It includes the logo of its sponsors or authorising agents (neither of which actually exist).
The work re-directs the gaze. The text engraved on the plaque reads of a Chthonic machine buried beneath the earth; "We can see its tubes emerging from the creek" leads many who read the engraved text on the plaque to then move to look down at the earth and also to move to the adjacent railing overlooking Deptford creek in order to perhaps see the emerging tubes. In other words, the plaque ‘activates’ the space around itself as potentially part of the alteration or addition to this landscape which the work required and undertaken by this group.
Following the early experiments of John Evelyn this history of modern fertiliser production moves two centuries to the work of Sir John Bennet Lawes who constructed the first modern fertiliser factory in the world in Deptford. It was to commemorate this long history of association with the industrialisation of nature that the plaque and the machine project came into being.