Unearthing Disaster I & II by Angela Melitopoulos and Angela Anderson
Minnesota Street Projects
1275 Minnesota St.
San Francisco, CA
May 20 - June 24, 2017
May 20, 5- 7 pm
with artists remarks at 5:30 pm
Cosponsored by the Minnesota Street Projects
The Institute of the Arts and Science's presentation of Unearthing Disaster I & II at the Minnesota Street Projects will be the first North American exhibition by two internationally emerging artists, Angela Melitopoulos and Angela Anderson, based in Athens, Greece. Also on exhibit in Germany at dOCUMENTA14, their video installation presents years of research on the destruction of a pristine, mountainous forest region in Northeastern Greece by Eldorado Gold, a Canadian mining company. Since 2013, Melitopolous and Anderson have documented the environmental, social, economic, and psychological damage inflicted on this region by El Dorado's construction of a massive open pit gold mine.
Unearthing Disaster II & II is presented in conjunction with EXTRACTION, a conference May 12-13 at UC Santa Cruz, organized by T.J. Demos of the Center for Creative Ecologies and A. Laurie Palmer.
The two-channel video installations Unearthing Disaster I & II, produced respectively in 2013 and 2015, are shown on opposite sides of the same projection screens. Together, they capture the pulverisation of the natural and cultural environment in the Skouries forest of the Halkidiki region, as well as the intense outpouring of citizen dissent that erupted in response.
Unearthing Disaster I accompanies local activists on a journey through their once-familiar landscape, made unrecognizable in a matter of days by the forces of industrial capitalist resource extraction. Through the course of this journey, the scale of an imminent ecological disaster unfolds through stories about millions of trees cut, clean water disappearing from the mountain, and the sell-out of the region by local politicians. The artists show violent police and private security clashes with protestors gathering to oppose the mine and preserve the natural environment and their own livelihoods. They also document encounters with workers who vehemently defend the mining project.
Unearthing Disaster II offers a poetic and moving overview of the stakes in this struggle. It contrasts the molecular, intelligent, rhizomatic networks of plants, trees, streams, and earth with the massive, violent, mechanized destruction of these networks in the name of profit and “development.” In scene after scene, the artists chart a relentless onslaught on the idyllic Greek landscape, already transformed into an unrecognizable and barren mountaintop desert.
The struggle shown in Unearthing Disaster I & II is ongoing. In 2015 a newly elected Greek government vowed to stop the construction of the mine, but the economic situation in Greece and the demands of global creditors blocked its promise. Against this backdrop, Melitopolous and Anderson's work calls implicitly for a re-evaluation of entangled economic, social and political systems which drive massive ecological and cultural destruction in the name of profit. The protest movements they powerfully portray assert that our future survival is bound to a global political struggle for ecology that recognizes the interconnectedness of environmental, political, social, cultural, economic, and ethical values.
The exhibition is funded by the McEvoy Family Fund of the IAS, the IAS Alumni Fund for Visiting Artists, UC Santa Cruz Arts Division, and annual donors to the IAS .