The images speak of polluted rivers, cultural genocide and the impact of colonization on both the environment and its people.
“Decolonizing Nature” is a two-week international pop-up exhibition tied to the University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts environmental justice conference, opening April 19. On April 15, 516 ARTS will host 15 works by eight international artists bringing a multiplicity of voices discussing the severe impact of geopolitics on the environment and Native communities.
Co-curators Lara Esther Goldmann and Chloë Courtney chose artists who explore the interconnected relationships between ecological and social injustices.
Albuquerque-based photographer Basia Irland documents rivers across the globe while penning a National Geographic blog.
“She’s been working for many, many years as a water activist,” Courtney said. A sound installation will accompany her photographs of industrial and political exploitation.
Albuquerque photographer Michael Berman’s “Pope on TV” captures a picture of the pope in the center of the screen behind a window with jail-like bars. Bernan is known for his work documenting the borderlands of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.
“His work focuses on the particular issues of New Mexico within the current political climate – issues of immigration and equality and race are very closely intertwined,” Courtney said.
“We’re interested in the role Catholicism plays in colonization,” she continued. “It perpetuated colonial structures and continues to do so.”
Mexico City’s Carlos Maravilla’s “Santos Semilla y sembrador” comments on the Xochimilco, a region that still reflects the canals and waterways making up the original structure of the city before the Spanish conquest.
“The entire city used to be networked with canals,” Goldmann said. “The entire valley around Mexico City was lakes.”
Guatemala’s Sandra Monterossa never knew her grandmother was Mayan until the woman was on her deathbed.
“After the Guatemalan Civil War, it became very dangerous to identify as indigenous,” Courtney said. “There’s never been acknowledgment from the government that it constituted genocide.”
Monterossa reacted by learning indigenous fiber dyeing techniques as reflected in her piece “Expoliada.”
“It’s basically a return to that hope and a way to connect with that history,” Goldmann said.
Dylan Miner’s (Métis, Mich.) print “No Pipelines on Indigenous Lands” was used in the recent Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrations.
“He’s been very active in the resistance,” Goldmann said. “It shows how colonial structures function here at home.”