Hillary Predko, artist and waste researcher working out of Queen's University in Canada, visited the Department of Thematic studies at Linköping University in March 2022.

Hillary Predko is an artist and waste researcher, supervised by Dr. Myra Hird. In march 2022 she visited to the Department of Thematic studies (Tema) at Linköping University, to learn about waste systems in Sweden, attend seminars, and to build research relationships.

What are your interests as a researcher?

I am interested in the indeterminacy and agential qualities of waste, how settler-colonial histories have shaped waste regimes, and how art can reframe our understanding of environmental issues.

You worked on the Environmental Racism is Garbage-project, how was that?

Environmental Racism is Garbage was an interactive virtual research-creation and art symposium, held in May 2021, exploring waste as a symptom of environmental racism through collaborations between artists, activists, and academics, hosted by Canada’s Waste Flow research group and the Seed Box Consortium. We organized the symposium during the depths of COVID lockdowns, which was both a challenge and an interesting opportunity. Because we didn’t need to budget for air travel it was easier to extend the reach of our community and work with people who are broadly distributed across the globe. Presenters joined us from the Arctic Archipelago to the coasts of Mexico, and brought stories and knowledges from their own geographies. This symposium has gone on to inform my research project and artistic practice.

What is the purpose of your visit?

Visiting Tema, I have been learning about waste systems in Sweden, attending seminars, and building out collaborative research relationships with Cecilia Åsberg and Marietta Radomska.

How has your time in Sweden been so far?

I find Sweden an inspiring and fascinating place and I am so impressed with the infrastructural systems – both technological and social. From the effective rail lines, to extensive bike lanes, moving through without a car is frictionless. For me, it’s a reminder that so much of our knowledge and culture is contained in the surrounding world and travel affords an opportunity to experience stepping into that knowledge. Biking by the koloniträdgård next to the university every day has opened up discussions about how land and space and food are valued in Sweden, and visiting Norrköping has taught me about the industrial history and postwar transformation of Sweden. Canada has a lot we could learn from Sweden.