Will Kwan, Terra Economicus
Maya Burns

Review. In Journal of Curatorial Studies. Volume 10 Number 1, 2021.

[Excerpt] Curated by Leila Timmins, Terra Economicus brings together six recent works to explore how the influences of colonialism, globalism, science and commerce mediate humans’ relationship to the natural world. Kwan foregrounds the mutually informing relationship between the sociopolitical and environmental implications of ‘land’ to deconstruct the conditions under which it appears as an occasion for commodification, power and extraction (Timmins 2020: 3). Terra Economicus is ambitious, but its scope informs its success. Kwan deftly manoeuvres between local and international, historic and present day contexts, channelling his critique of global proportions through familiar morsels of contemporary life. He interprets Toronto’s landfill through the elitist jargon of the sommelier, cross-lists Alberta oil’s public relations nightmare with the control of online image databases, traces Ontario’s hottest real estate to Group of Seven landscapes, and compares the western adoption of yoga to the British colonial project in India (Kwan 2020). Underlying each of these diverse investigations is a story about the cost of escape – of putting distance between oneself and past, present and future ecological and human rights abuses. Terra Economicus undermines the certainty of universalized perspectives and encourages criticality in a world where access to good information is as limited as the privilege to ignore it.

Full text available at the Journal of Curatorial Studies (Intellect).