Kat Austen (GB/DE)

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Palaeoplasticene addresses the breakdown of plastic in the environment by engaging with a speculative past where plastic-based fungi evolved naturally, introducing plastic to the ecosystem in pre-human history. This fictional past invites visitors to realize the longevity of the material and to engage with the implications for our current and future ecosystems. Designed to be durable and unreactive, plastic outlasts its surrounding flora and fauna. Yet ecosystems are already adapting to this new materiality with microorganisms evolving to feed on plastic, and plants being shown to take microplastics into tissue. Based on a series of artistic research experiments to encounter the enduring nature of plastic, which are documented online, the Palaeoplasticene sculpture invites visitors to engage with the longevity of plastic and the implications for our current and future ecosystems by reconfiguring our understanding of its presence over time.


Kat Austen is a person. In her artistic practice, she focuses on environmental issues. She melds disciplines and media, creating sculptural and new media installations, performances, and participatory work. Austen’s practice is underpinned by extensive research and theory and driven by a motivation to explore how to move towards a more socially and environmentally just future.
Working from her studio in Berlin, Austen is Artist-in-Residence at the Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences, University College London and Senior Teaching Fellow at UCL Arts and Sciences. She has held numerous residencies and fellowships including EMAP/EMARE Artist-in-Residence at WRO Art Center 2020, Studiotopia Artist hosting Scientists-in-Residence and Artist Fellow at Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.


Palaeoplasticene was realized within the framework of the STUDIOTOPIA program at Ars Electronica Linz GmbH & Co KG with support of the Creative Europe Culture Program of the European Union.
Concept developed in collaboration with Indrė Žliobaitė and Laurence Gill
Production: Andrew Newman
Metalwork: Keep Away From Fire

STUDIOTOPIA is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.