Brazil : Land Grab Series

I'm on a roll again with the Land Grab Series. I have new pottery to add to the installations which gives the pieces a more three dimensional twist. The new camera has arrived and the studio has essentially been emptied to work on these so here they come! This week I  feature Brazil. Soy is the key crop here.

Brazil, 2012 by Kathryn Clark. 6' x 7'
Approaching this work feels so much different than my other work. I can't seems to visualize these pieces ahead of time like the Foreclosure series or some of my earlier paintings. There's a lot of doubt going into each piece but after each one is completed (it feels like doing a jigsaw puzzle), I have much more elation about them than I have after finishing other work. Perhaps my heart is more invested in this series or perhaps I still have my doubts dabbling in ceramics.

Brazil (detail), 2012 by Kathryn Clark. 6' x 7'
Nevertheless, I have no choice in making these. It's my calling at the moment and I'm enjoying it. Now, onto the facts. I'm still pondering how to present the statistics along with the pieces. I even wondered about an interactive website that would drill down to more and more detail about the land investments (likely angering numerous corporations and governments).

Brazil, 2012 by Kathryn Clark. 6' x 7'
I can tell you a little bit about Brazil's land situation. There have been at least twenty-three major land deals with foreign investors just over the past two years. 2,936,854 hectares (see note) of land have been leased or sold to overseas companies. Many diverse crops are being grown or raised but soy remains one of the leaders. The issues with soy in Brazil are many. The largest being the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

Brazil (detail), 2012 by Kathryn Clark. 6' x 7'
The land is cheaper in the Amazon. The soil is fertile and the water plentiful for growing. Soy is most often grown here as a monoculture. The result is tremendously large scale farms that become dependent on pesticides and bio-engineering in order to thrive. This affects the rivers as well as the nearby local farmers who find their land and food polluted. Here's a link to a great interview with Dr, Sergio Sauer (National Rapporteur for Human Rights in Land, Territory and Food, Brazil). He goes into detail about the issues affecting soy farming in Brazil.

Brazil (detail), 2012 by Kathryn Clark. 6' x 7'
There are many countries investing in developing land here. The United States has plenty as does China, France, Germany and even Argentina. There is a lot more research to be poured through and understood but the gist is, there is serious environmental damage happening in Brazil through large scale food production.

Notes: The information on hectare development is from Grain: Land Grab Deals February 2012.


ronnie said...

this work really resonates - keep with it (even if ceramics haven't been your 'thing' its working here.... the idea of 'food on the plate' etc immediately comes to mind)

the thing that I'd question however regards land grab in brazil is the notion that cleared rainforest makes for fertile farmland - over and over and over again we are seeing how fragile and unproductive (for agri-industry) ex-rainforest soil really is (here's a quick link as an example >> http://onlinegeography.wikispaces.com/LW-Deforestation)

blandina said...

As a big piece of Tuscany is under water right in this moment, people wonder about what is happenning to our land...maybe we didn't suffer from land grabbing here but certainly from unscrupulous forest destruction, greedy farming and worst of all wild building.
How appropriate the use of broken home items for your project, a crusade really.

Rachel Biel said...

How interesting, Kathryn! I grew up in Brazil from 1962-1980 in coffee country which is now diversified into a whole bunch of other crops with corn for fuel being the largest. We were down South, in Parana. But, even then, land grabbing issues were huge up in the North. There have been so many protests along the way, people killed, governments elected who say they will protect the Amazon, yadda-yadda.... Most of the corporations that are down there are American and have been since the 1960's so there is a lot of anti-American sentiment because of that, too. But, it goes both ways- short term profits for long-term problems.

I'll share your post with some friends on Facebook who also grew up down there. And, I would love to have you as a guest on my site when you are done with the piece. (Just remind me!)

Mine is www.rayela.com and then I have a blog about our years in Brazil, but nothing that will help you with stats on what's going on now: www.bielsinbrazil.blogspot.com. I do have a friend who teaches Brazilian and African studies at Tulane and he might know more of what you are looking for. Just let me know if you want me to connect you with him.

kathrynclark said...

Such insightful comments! Thank you! I plan to investigate all of these in more detail. There is so much out there to unearth and so hard to determine what's legit and what's not. And Rachel, thanks so much for spreading the word to your friends. I would love to be a guest on your site.

claire said...

Hi Kathryn love this post and seeing how your new work is progressing, it is inspiring to hear you following your calling even though you feel doubts. I saw this article and thought of you.


Victoria said...

As always Kathryn, you inspire, educate, and completely amaze me.

Lari Washburn said...

I learn so much from you through your work. My parents lived in San Paulo for about 18 months while my father was teaching research management through Vanderbilt University. They loved the country so much. My mother got so much inspiration for her work through the local artists. How I wish I could have a conversation with them today about this issue, but they are both gone now. I was listening to something on NPR last week about farmland being a good investment, and how it is gaining in favor as a reliable investment. It made me wonder who is doing the buying. Very much to thin about and learn about.

MulticoloredPieces said...

Hi, Kathryn. Excellent post. Of course the mosaic pleases me, but the information you link the work to is important. Scary, too. My thoughts have been turning to such problems as well. Despite all that, have a good Thanksgiving and a happy holiday season!
best, nadia

lisa s said...

so exciting.
i wonder if the ceramics can help you.. if you can code statistics in it somehow??


Katrina said...

so exciting to this work progressing. i applaud you for working so big. scale, yes, but also concept. and i agree with lisa's comment... i wonder if you can somehow (conceptually or literally) show all the statistical info in the actual pieces. or in the installation. hmm...

kathrynclark said...

Excellent comment, Lisa and Katrina. I'm working on it! There's another component that I'm developing which addresses the facts in an unusual way. Coming in the spring!


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