Susan Hauri-Downing is an Australian artist living in Switzerland. She is interested in biocultural diversity, biopolitics, solastalgia and the intricacy of interspecies relationships, with a current focus on the European honey bee (Apis mellifera)
. She is affiliated with the Center for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER)
at the University of Western Australia as an external associate following an artistic research residency in 2012.
She is currently exploring relationships between honey bees, humans and ecologies, focusing on the poetics and aesthetics of human/bee/plant interactions and communications. She is also interested in concepts of "bee-time" (how bees experience time and how artistic practices might allow humans to experience/understand that time) and "solastalgia"
(whether bees feel distress when their environments shift or are lost).
Prior to 2006, she worked with themes directly related to the environmental degradation caused by the detrimental and unsustainable land management practices introduced by 19th century Australian colonists. Her work highlighted the pervasive introduction of foreign species. Since moving to Switzerland she has gained a much better appreciation of the factors that persuaded the early colonists to bring familiar plants and animals to the unsuitable habitats of Africa and Australia.
Her work has included explorations of the personal and cultural implications of the global cultivation of native and foreign plant species, including aesthetics; ties to "home"; food security; traditional food availability; materials for artifacts; and medicines.
When possible, she repurposes donated or surplus materials. She draws on the support, services and resources of volunteer organisations or government funded individuals/groups to network, share information, reduce costs, and to add passionate and concerned voices to the issues being explored. Production of her works often involve groups of people who share particular concerns and who might act as consultants, designers, participants, technical specialists or evaluators. Sometimes her artistic role may be simply as a facilitator.