Back from the Atacama Desert

I returned in December from the three week art residency with La Wayaka and 8 other artists from all over the world, and it’s taken some time to adapt to being back!

The Atacama Desert in the north of Chile is extraordinary… immense, some incredible rock formations and spread of textures and materials on the ground: from sand to the salt flats of the Salar (which is where Lithium extraction happens). Part of my intention was find out more about the impact of lithium extraction soon the indigenous community inside the broader context of Lithium being termed ‘the new oil’ as companies like Tesla turn to the production of electric cars on a large scale as the ‘green future’.

Lithium production in the Lithium Triangle (Chile, Bolivia and Argentina) requires a lot of water which travels through miles and miles of black piping from the Andes to the plants. At the same time, local indigenous communities, which are found in the many small oases scattered across the desert, depend on this water for their survival and livelihood. The relationship between the Lithium plants and the communities is tenuous and tense as each of them seek to reach ‘a working balance’. And many communities feel that they have been ill-informed about the agreements that have been drawn up and agreed.

I collected material, took lots of photographs and some video and sound of my time there and will write more again. However, La Wayaka have been successful in securing Guest Projects in London for July to August and I am submitting work for that: photographic and some video which is currently in progress…. and I’ll share more about that as it progresses.

 

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