Dry West – Coalmine

“Gentlemen, you are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights, for there is not sufficient water to supply the land.” John Wesley Powell remarked in 1883. The great explorer believed that the arid West was not suitable for agricultural development, except for about two percent of the lands that were near water sources. Since then the American West has turned into a hydrological society. Rivers run in concrete beds, across mountains and deserts and up towards money. But even where the eye sees a wild river or natural lake, chances are that nature is nothing more than an illusion in the artificial landscapes of the Anthropocene.

The newest LandRush chapter Dry West was shown as a five channel video installation at COALMINE in Winterthur.

The LandRush – Dry West installation combines large scale projections with a series of short films on monitors and the interactive LandRush iPad app. While the projections take the viewer on an immersive journey through the landscapes and situations of modern day agriculture, the monitors feature intimate stories of diverse stakeholders and an insight into complex scientific and ideas and the legal framework that defines water policies in the American West. These narrative vignettes leads the viewer to consider multiple positions at once and ask questions rather than guide them along a finished story. As multiple sites and situations are experienced simultaneously the complex entanglements of todays food production system become tangible. Besides the spacial installation the new Moonscape series also premiered at COALMINE.

While Dry West was shown in Winterthur, a spacial installation of the four other LandRush chapters opened at the Photobastei Zurich just 30 minutes away. This dual exhibition approach offered an interesting tension and insight into the complexities of todays food production realities.