James Tylor’s photographic series Economics of Water highlighted the environmental damage to the Murray Darling River system from poor water management, historically and ongoing. This series of photographs of a distraught Murray Darling river system were overlaid with gold geometric shapes that symbolised the human infrastructure of water diversion for commercial agriculture and settlements.
The Murray Darling Basin is Australia’s largest river system, stretching across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. The rivers, lakes and floodplains have been a sustainable cultural river system for Indigenous people living along the waterways for 65,000+ years, providing water, food, resources and trade routes.
Following European colonisation, control of the River’s natural resources have been redirected to non-Indigenous agriculture, fisheries, transport and settlements.
Industrialisation of agriculture through large commercial-scale farming and multi-national owned companies has led to unsustainable water consumption and trade. Tylor’s works addressed what he viewed as State and Federal Government commodification of the rivers’ natural resources, and a failure to manage environmental and cultural consequences.