When the Land Speaks is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates and Steven L. Bridges, Associate Curators. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Alan and Rebecca Ross endowed exhibitions fund.
About the Exhibition
Land of Friends takes place in La Jagua, a fishing village in the Huila region of Colombia that has been severely affected by the Quimbo hydroelectric dam, a project by the Spanish transnational corporation Emgesa. The film records the stories of several inhabitants of the region, mostly traditional fishermen whose lives and livelihood have been disrupted by the construction of this dam, which supplies only five percent of the Colombian energy demand while exporting the rest as raw material to neighboring countries. For the local people, the river is not only a source of food and sustenance, but a space that enables social relations and spiritual encounters with ancestors. A result of globalization and free-trade agreements, the encroachment of the Quimbo produces visible environmental destruction on the territory. It is a form of colonialism that displaces and disposses otherwise self-sufficient agricultural communities.
Carolina Caycedo (b. 1978, London) is a visual artist and activist. She is a member of Juagos por el Territorio Collective, Asoquimbo, and other organizations and social movements that advocate for territorial resistance, economies of solidarity, and housing as a human right. Investigating movement, assimilation and resistance, and representation and control, Caycedo addresses contexts, groups, and communities that are affected by development projects—for instance the construction of dams and the privatization of water.
When the Land Speaks
This program presents the work of artists who explore the land as a space of conflict, which speaks through a changing, often fractured landscape. Addressing current issues such as resource extraction, sustainability, land rights, and displacement and dispossession, the works in this video series approach language as a form that does not limit itself to verbal communication. Instead, enunciation takes place in and through the territory: in the sounds and forms that water takes, in the rumbles and cracks of the earth, and in the ancestral rituals and practices derived from the landscape. In many ways, land and language have always been interconnected, each helping to define the other. But in our present day, there is a growing disconnect between much of human society and any sense of rootedness or care for the land that supports us. Confronting these realities, the artists in this series draw attention to the power of the landscape to express itself and communicate with us, and reflect on how our eroding connection to the land may also represent a fading understanding of ourselves.