Carolina Caycedo’s artistic practice unites activism and art. She translates her research, interviews, and documentation into objects, drawings, and videos meant to be shown in exhibition contexts. Territorial resistance, the fight for the rights of indigenous populations and their environment, is a central aspect of her work. Through visual forms, sounds, and lectures she spotlights unspoken realities and ecocides around the world and opens up space for potential discussions and paradigm shifts. Water elements have become particularly central in her work; as Caycedo has stated, “In Indigenous cosmogonies of the Americas, all bodies of water are connected. Rivers are the veins of the planet, their waters associate communities and ecosystems.” In a subtle way, she brings the public’s attention to some of the biggest environmental catastrophes of our time— affecting rivers, indigenous populations, and ecosystems in South America, from Colombia to Brazil—and thus mediates the voices of the local population directly affected by the unrestrained exploitation of natural resources through methods like mining and hydropower. Although the latter is often considered a source of green energy, some countries have become aware of the ecological risks and damage caused by dams and have begun to dismantle them. Nevertheless, while Western countries have started this process on their own land, the same companies have started to develop massive plants in the Global South: no less than 250 new constructions have been planned for South America, which will affect the entire biotope.
Esto no es agua / This Is Not Water
In her video Esto no es agua / This Is Not Water (2015), Caycedo displays rivers, or rather cascades, defying the law of gravity. Water pulses out of the ground, flowing from all sides of the screen, or starts to be mixed completely in aerial views. At the border of abstraction, this aestheticization seems to be less the sublimation of a catastrophe than a synesthetic experiment that increases the curiosity of the viewer. The soundtrack, made in collaboration with the Los Angeles-based DJ Daniel Pineda, samples a melody played with a millo reed flute, a small indigenous instrument used in traditional Cumbia music, remixed with the sound of the waterfall. The first element carries the melody while the second might give another impulse as the water would be crashing into your brain and make a revolution out of it.
The work on the floor, entitled Foresight Filaments (2018), was specially produced for the exhibition, and invites visitors to lay down upon it. The patterned textile covering it becomes a form of direct contact with the river, which, as in the video, doesn’t fall down from the sky but surges directly from the ground.
The production of this work was kindly supported by:
Musée d'Art de Pully, Lausanne