Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Imagine the Unthinkable" installation by Strijdom van der Merwe

"Imagine the Unthinkable", Strijdom van der Merwe, Installation View, exhibited at Circa on Jellicoe, JHB. Photograph from the BEELD.

Land artist Strijdom van der Merwe created an art installation entitled "Imagine the Unthinkable" as part of his exhibition 'Drawing clouds in the Karoo' at Circa on Jellicoe, Johannesburg. The installation comments and expresses the effects or nature of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, planned for the arid and beautiful Karoo basin. Fracking entails drilling into the earth, and extracting natural gas from the shale layers by flushing a cocktail of chemicals and water down the shaft and into the rock layers to fracture the shale and release the gas captured in these layers. Strijdom's work makes use of maps of the actual sites for which drilling and fracking is planned, and uses sound as a device to accentuate the unnatural and disturbing nature of the process.

As with most industrial and mining processes, there is a lot of money to be made, and the companies who benefit from this have no qualms in doing what is needed to stake their claim and make their profits. At the cost of the environment, and the local people who need to live with the consequences - in this case the very high risk of contaminated ground water and reduced air quality caused by toxic pollution (particularly from the spent fracking fluid 'dams' and from cracks in the drilling shaft).

Van der Merwe does not perceive himself as a protest artist. His work usually rather enhances or encouarges an appreciation for nature's beauty. He aims to strengthen or accentuate the landscape's inherent beauty, and through this sometimes make people more aware about desertification, global warming and nature conservation. He often works in the Karoo, and therefore the risks or threat that fracking poses are a very real and personal matter.

Read more about the art installation:

Read more about fracking in the Karoo:

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