Sculpture / ceramic, 2017
Contaminated soil from environmental
disaster and clay
'Depletions' is a series of ceramic works produced through extensive research with the contaminated soil from the largest environmental disaster in Brazilian history. In November 2015 an iron ore tailings dam suffered a catastrophic failure, leaking 60 million cubic meters of ore tailings into nature, destroying 700 Km of river waters before it reaches the Atlantic Ocean 17 days later.
The series is made using the residue collected from the disaster area, which is commonly known as “a mud” but is actually composed of large variety materials, including sand, iron particles and organic matter of different origins.
After a long process of material analysis and structural compensation, the work that resulted from this approach manifested through rough surfaces, in the reddish tone characteristic of the soil of regions of iron mining. The pieces that this series comprises were only possible after a complex process or treating the residue, allowing it to reach a possible compound with sculptural elasticity and enough firing resistance.
The works that emerged from burning, presented peculiar aspects, as if glazed and in a constant process of oxidation due to the high concentration of iron and silica present in the residue. During the research, in addition to the urgent need to consider the temporalities colliding in the relationship between human society and the environment, the sensorial immersion in that disaster and the straight contact with that contaminated material cast the primary notions of the process. It led me to reflect on the principles of collapse, disorder, and contamination, but also resistance, fluidity, and resilience, which proved to be relevant to understanding the mechanics of the disaster.