Toxic Waves II

Arabel Lebrusan

Can art making, through embodied thinking, activate our empathy at a deeper and more instinctive level than our rational understanding of events?

Can this urge us to act? Can this help us grieve? 

Toxic Waves II is an online participatory drawing performance where participants are invited to draw to the beat of a metronome the shape of a wave with a repetitive line.


Investigating the exploitation and inequality deep-rooted in social tragedies, Toxic Waves seeks to engage with such disasters through the medium of drawing, exploring whether this medium has the power to close the distance between us and the events happening thousands of miles away from us.


On the 25th  of January 2019, the Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil, played host to a disaster of devastating proportions. When a tailings dam belonging to Vale, the world’s largest iron ore producer, collapsed, tonnes of toxic mudflow advanced downstream, killing 270 people in the process. Prosecutors subsequently described a relationship of ‘pressure, collusion, rewards and conflict of interest between Value and the German company TÜV SÜD,’ alleging that Vale hid information about the dam’s instability to avoid harming the company’s reputation, and TÜV SÜD issued reports confirming that it was safe. 

Bringing the hard-hitting reality of this this site-specific tragedy to the table, Arabel is encouraging us to engage our bodies and minds with it through the medium of drawing. 


In the first iteration of Toxic Waves, participants took part in a drawing performance at Dorset Place in Brighton and online via Zoom. 


To the beat of a metronome with 272 different movements over around seven minutes, participants were invited to draw waves, using charcoal and the movement of their body.


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About Arabel Lebrusan

Arabel Lebrusan is currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics at the University of Brighton. Arabel is a Spanish-born artist working in sculpture, drawing, jewellery, and site-specific interventions. Focusing on materials and material culture—such as metal from knives confiscated by police, or mercury used in small-scale gold mining, her work investigates wider issues of power relationships, exploitation and inequality, and her artworks function as social commentary. Arabel is currently exploring notions of extractivism, ecofeminism and ecological grief. 

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