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Speaking of Mud

Mining companies in Brazil often construct barrages for rejected material dangerously close to communities, exposing populations to high risk. The dams are also often beyond their capacity. The rupture of a dam belonging to a mine in Bento Rodrigues [Minas Gerais] in 2015 killed 19 people, raising debate about the security of hundreds of these constructions held in mining operations. In 2019 another dam collapsed, this time leaving around 300 deaths. In both cases, it was evident the government has little means to punish and stop the enterprises, but it was the one in charge of rescues, operations for placing the affected population, cleaning the villages inundated by mud, dealing with the contamination of rivers, while thousands were without water and food due to contamination.

Both disasters happened in areas of the enterprise Vale. This multinational has its main office close to Geneva, where it has its department of ‘risk management’, far from the iminent risk of destruction in mining localities. The installation shows two images made in front of Vale’s office in the Canton de Vaud, seen from a cut page of Le Monde reporting on the Brazilian disaster in 2019. The work is completed with a list of localities in Minas Gerais that has variants of the word MUD in their names, pointing to environments of possible precariousness or pollution, but especially impregnation.

 Installation: Two series of 16 pages of cut newspapers; Two photographs [inkjet print on paper 180 grs]; Printed text on paper 120 grs.

BETHÔNICO, Mabe | Falando de Lama.

Revista ZUM | n.22, Instituto Moreira Salles, pp. 68-87, 2022.

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