ARTWORK + > Other of Pearl

Body Burden
Body Burden
Sea salt, New York sea water, human tears, antique hand-dyed silk velvet, patinated steel

Cast from local seawater, sea salt, and tears collected over a two-year period, this work takes the form of a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) eye—the largest eye on Earth. Since the beginning of industrialization, companies from chemical manufacturers like DuPont and 3M to the oil and gas industries have polluted our local watershed and beyond. These contaminants make their way into the bodies of oysters and whales, as well as those of human beings.

“Forever chemicals,” like PFAS, are found in blood and breast milk of humans worldwide. The artist asks us to imagine if these contaminants might emerge into our tears—and what it might mean to be linked by these common internal and external seas.

The work’s title, Body Burden, is the term used to refer to this pollution we carry within our own bodies. The molecular residue of capitalism’s extractive industries affects us all, regardless of species—reminding us that the well-being of all species is interconnected.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Corr