Downstream refers to the natural and gravitational direction in which water moves through a pathway. This term also describes the latter part of a sequence of events—in business and supply-chain management, “downstream” marks the stage where raw material goods are turned into products and sold to consumers, such as in the gas and oil industry. “Downstream operations,” for example, plan the refining of crude material into goods, including gasoline, plastic, asphalt and solvents.

Drawing on the evocations of this term, this exhibition explores environmental ethics through art—namely, the unequal ways in which groups of people experience waste, infrastructure breakdown, and climate change. Featuring photography, video, and sculpture, Downstream focuses on imagery of fluidity and contamination to demonstrate how we encounter climate catastrophe differently across geography, race, and class.

Together, the works on view underscore ongoing debates about equitable treatment and tenable living conditions, along with the histories that have shaped and defined the fight for environmental justice.

Artists: William Christenberry, Paul D’Amato, Allison Janae Hamilton, Mags Harries, Charles “Teenie” Harris, Michael Kolster, Dick Lebowitz,, Gregg Lefevre, Mary Mattingly, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Abelardo Morell, Chris Taylor, Tom Young

Curated by Krista Alba, former deCordova Curatorial Assistant

Main Image: Allison Janae Hamilton, Wacissa, 2019, Dimensions variable, Single-channel video projection, Total runtime: 22:14 minutes. Edition of 5 plus 2 AP. Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen. © Allison Janae Hamilton.

Art On View