Moving Mountains: Extractive Landscapes of Peru consists of beautiful series of landscape photographs by Edi Hirose and Nancy La Rosa. It opens with a group of images that depict murky, swamp-like scenes with dead, or rather bare sets of trees. At first glance, the viewer may not recognize the region in the photos, but after reading the description on the wall it comes as a surprise that what should be the lush greenery of the Amazon River is reduced to a barren landscape. From that entrance, there are two routes to take with moving to the left or right, the viewer was to either see more construction or more nature as a transnational process from one to another. All the photographs that depict the construction and the naked landscape are encased with light brown picture frames that added to the already dull, lifeless look of what construction has done with much of Peru’s environment.
Moving to right, there are three gorgeously drawn topographic maps and video installations of quaint, peaceful scenes of nature. This part of the exhibit seems to serve a foundation for what the land looked like prior to human contact. The series of illustrations informed the viewer of the mountainous areas of Peru with elevation markers. It added more dimension to the idea of how drastically the land has changed over time. Off to the side, there is a small dark room that was quoted by another viewer in the space as looking like “an aquarium for nature”. This comment led me to see this area as a form of preservation of the beauty of nature due to the room being very dark like a faint memory. The only light source is the mesmerizing green of the grass waving back and forth among the company of rocks. This light creates a focused attention on the scenery that captures the viewer as if to say “look at this, memorize this, because it’s no longer there” and as much as one wanted to remain in that moment it was a faint-hearted farewell.
The next series of photos are of mining in its beginning stages as well as isolated homes and buildings with tarps draping in the photos in a ghostly, rather lifeless fashion. These regions start to lose an organic quality as the artist photographs the buildings in progress. There are beams exposed with draping covers blowing as if with a limp in the wind. The photos lack any stark colors to contrast against the shades of brown and gray with occasional blue in the sky. It gives a sense of loss in life both in nature and wildlife. Various mountains turned to dull hills and dull hills turned to flat plains. The exhibit overall exemplified the need to raise environmental awareness because of the change Peru has undergone. It was once recognizable territory that made the region distinct from other countries. Now its identity has been altered to resemble other industrial areas around the globe.
Moving Mountains: Extractive Landscapes of Peru
By Edi Hirose and Nancy La Rosa, Visual Arts Center in Austin, Texas
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