[This article is drawn from a paper presented by the author at the Vulnerability, Infrastructure, and Displacement Symposium held at University College London on 12-13 June 2019, as part of the panel on “Networks and Circulations: Waste, Water, and Power.” Click here, here, and here for other articles drawn from the same panel.]
In the aftermath of a prolonged trash crisis in Lebanon, the government sets off the construction of sanitary landfills on the sea using solid waste as filling material in the reclamation of new territory. Under the guise of coastal regeneration, an old dumpsite hill is dismantled and its rotten innards is spread onto the sea as the bottom layer of this new land formation. This operation unearths a stratified history of toxicity into the surrounding environment. By countering what will undoubtedly become a polished architectural product, the video Dreamland reveals the ecological dysfunction by investigating the extent of sea pollution on invisible marine biomass. As the scale of the toxic spread surpasses the visible and sensorial impact at the landfill site, the vulnerability of both human and nonhuman affected bodies stretch toward uncertain futures. Whether soil, skin, or water, matter interacts with both the flows of capital and of toxicity, in a seemingly choreographed entanglement between machine and the materiality of the body.