Pascua Lama

A collaboration with Ash Keating for TRANS VERSA 2006

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago, Chile

In protest of proposed Barrack gold mine under the mountain top glazier region on the Chilean, Argentine border in the Andes. The core of this installation was a collection of gold skulls, a contour map that Keating had cut from newspapers and my hologram in every drop of water from where the mountains reach the sky. Assembling these pieces expressed the impact of the proposed mine- the installation was a warning and a protest.

The hologram was used to show the fragile complexity of the glazier and water supply on which the people of the Huasco valley depend. The most affective part of the installation was created somewhat accidentally through the lighting design. The hologram was illuminated by bouncing light off a mirror behind it, and the contour map was placed in the un-diffracted light that came through the hologram. A second light was used to illuminate the front of the contour map and skulls underneath the image. The illumination of the top and front matched seamlessly and it was not obvious that light was coming through the hologram to the top of the map. Intuitively you would think that there was only one light on the map. Getting close to the map, skulls and hologram your shadow moves up over the skulls to the front of the map, but then disappears as the top remains illuminated. This produces an unnerving sense that you have become transparent, a visceral feeling of the disappearance that threatens the glazier.

Despite protests and legal action the project was approved, Barrick announced their successful appeal to begin construction on May 7, 2009 – gloating to shareholders that Pascua-Lama will be ‘one of the lowest cost gold mines in the world.’ With poetic tragedy the hologram also disappeared. It was not included with the artwork sent back from the gallery.