“Already many of the surrounding buildings had disappeared beneath the proliferating vegetation. Huge club mosses and calamites blotted out the white rectangular faces, shading the lizards in their window lairs. Beyond the lagoon, the endless tides of silt had begun to accumulate into enormous glittering banks, here and there overtopping the shoreline like the immense tippings of some distant goldmine.” – JG Ballard, The Drowned World.
Inversus Mundi takes coal as the material and metaphorical staring point for a series of works that reflect on fortune, fate, self-determination, ruin, and political resistance in the abandoned coal-mining town of Corbin, British Columbia. A century ago Corbin was populated with growing families of hopeful immigrants working in the service of a booming industrial venture. Today rusted machine parts and railway sleepers are overgrown with grass, the bridges over the creek beds have vanished, long since carried away by the current, and the lodgings, constructed from old railway boxcars, are slowly disintegrating into the earth. While the nearby mine continues to gut the earth, Corbin’s enduring ghosts continue to dwell alongside local flora and fauna that have since repopulated the forgotten town site.
The exhibition envisions a world inverted, where, through human processes of excavation and extraction, an alter-world is uncovered. Many of the works included are derived from locally sourced material and are often conceived of and created on-site. Within this framework Corbin Union also recognizes bleakness, unknowability, wealth, yearning, and the metaphysical as productive filters for the site’s past, present, and future to both excavate and generate an important and largely unwritten story.