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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Discussion of work including Power in the Land at Oriel Môn

Last night I was invited to speak to a group of people interested in contemporary art (CCC Môn) at Oriel Môn, Llangefni. The meeting provided an opportunity to talk about my work around running and the body, Power in the Land and also the upcoming residency in Chile. The meeting was in welsh and it was great to be able to talk with artists, the Director of Oriel Môn, the Collections Manager (Ian who supported us with the archival exhibition) and many others about the various work and in particular Power in the Land. There was a good discussion afterwards including the future of Wylfa (both sites) and issues surrounding it. Many thanks to Brenda and Tecs.

My research continues around Lithium and its production in the Atacama Desert – requesting entry to one of the plants in particular. Lithium is termed as the ‘new petroleum’ given its vital role in the manufacture of rechargeable batteries for electric cars. It is a highly desirable mineral! Chile and Bolivia are currently major producers and the effectiveness of producing lithium carbonate from salt brines is so favourable that most hard rock mining operations have been priced out of the market.

Lithium production in the Atacama Desert

Lithium Production Plant, Atacama Desert, Chile

Digital Ecologies and the Anthropocene

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The symposium aimed to unravel the claim of ‘clean’ and ‘virtual’ technologies by tracing their material realities which are made up of complex meshes of human and non-human moving parts.

Ele Carpenter kicked the day off with a great overview of the issues addressed by artists working in this area. The presentations that followed addressed such themes as the Anthropocene and forms of waste, political, social and ecological strategies, and deep time and new temporalities. A number of artists’ films were shown afterwards but I didn’t see all of them, due to time.

It was a provocative and interesting day, and for anyone interested there is a call for Practice for an online publication ‘Screenworks’ (deadline 30 September 2017). Email: digitalecologiesscreenworks@gmail.com  for further information.

For a fuller programme and contacts see https://www.bathspa.ac.uk/liberal-arts/research/media-convergence-research-centre/digital-ecologies-and-the-anthropocene/

 

Power in the Land comes to Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff – February 19, 2017

Alongside the exhibition at BayArt (February 18 – March 17) we are screening extracts from artists’ films and then a discussion – followed by a screening of the documentary ‘Into Eternity’ about nuclear waste storage – at Chapter Arts Centre on February 19th, 1.00-5.00pm.

Unmissable! Check out  http://chapter.org/x-10-present-eternity for more details of this free event.

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