Installation view of “Shipping Roots,” with Green Hell, 2023. Photo: Ruth Clark

Lived Experience: A Conversation with Keg de Souza

Keg de Souza’s multidisciplinary practice gravitates around issues of place, community, and spatial politics. Drawing on her architectural training and experience as a squatter and organizer, she uses installation, temporary architecture, performance, workshops, and food to create informal, imaginative platforms for learning, participation, and exchange. Her recent projects include Changing Courses (2017), devoted to displaced food cultures in Australia; The only rock we eat (2018–ongoing), a meal in which salt suggests how we might think about the future of food production and consumption; the “Temporary Spaces, Edible Places” series, which uses food to initiate dialogues about place; Nganga toornung-nge dharraga Bunjil Bunjil (Looking down from the wings of Bunjil) (2021), an interactive sculpture and grasslands learning garden; and Not a Drop to Drink (2021), focused on conversations around water scarcity.

“Shipping Roots,” de Souza’s current exhibition at Climate House (formerly Inverleith House) at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), traces three hidden plant histories and their legacies. Immersive spaces for each story, as well as a children’s room, a reading room, and a research room, bring together objects, images, processes, people, and locations to offer a playful, multisensory experience, sharing a wealth of insights while raising questions not only about the colonial pasts of these plants, but also the lessons they might hold for the present and the future.

Beth Williamson: You are of Goan heritage, and you live on unceded Gadigal land in Australia. What does that mean for your work?
Keg de Souza: A lot of my practice looks at what it means to live on that land. Gadigal land is the First Nations land around Sydney. I try to unpack what it means to be living there as a settler while also looking at my personal history, the colonization of my ancestral land, and the kinds of issues that brings up. Much of my work is an exploration of place—and what that means. I am always interested in investigating place through different lenses. . .

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