Galería Freijo, Madrid, 7th march to 28th april, 2018
The phrase Killing Fields is primarily associated with the regime of the Khmer Rouge, and was also the title of a film on the subject. The Khmer Rouge used the fields of Cambodia to murder and bury more than one million people in mass graves. Here it becomes a metaphor of what is taking place in agricultural fields, which are being contaminated by the uncontrolled use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers with a high content of devastating toxins.
Killing Fields is an interchange between two artists, Teresa Serrano and LucíaMadriz, separated by almost two generations and with projects carriedout in different decades. Both artists are presenting a selection oftheir work that alters the perception of topics that are currently anintense preoccupation of scientists, writers, and media: theextinction of pollinators, the global food industry andbio-colonialism. Their projects explore how to discover visuality whenapproaching subjects such as the mortality of pollinators, due to thefaster-bigger-cheaper approach to food production that is steadilydraining our planet’s resources and could ultimately provoke thecollapse of civilization. The wisdom of cultures across the earth haslong told us that nature is full of extraordinary connections.
The works of Serrano and Madriz offer a palpable resistance to thesecircumstances, while avoiding images of violence and devastation.Adopting one of the ideas of Rancière, art is an autonomous area ofexperience in which there is no privileged medium: the worksdisplace hierarchical conceptions of art, such as the superiority oftragedy over comedy or of historical painting over still life, meaningthat the contemporary aesthetic opens the possibility of discoveringbeauty everywhere and in whatever situation. The projects of bothartists are undoubtedly committed to these issues; the associationsand references are deep and subtle, and converge in a compilation ofimages rich in social awareness and involvement. As an overview of ourcurrent predicament, they are insightful works with the determinationthat characterizes a certain type of art: one that directs the gazeand the mind to what is happening in our environment.
The projects are not related to theLand ArtorEnvironmental Artof the Sixties, but to sustainability, whose fundamental rules areecology, social justice, non-violence, and grassroots democracy. Somehistorians have criticized the classic land artists for taking littleinterest in the environmental issues of their interventions andtreating the landscape as a gigantic canvas. These aesthetic movementsalong with conceptualism paved the way for practices vital tocontemporary art; there is no question that their revolutionary ideasabout nature and its representation have influenced the work of thetwo artists here, though their intentions are not the same. Thenatural world was not so obviously under threat in the Sixties. Madrizand Serrano are responding to a very different emergency.