ECOLOGIES OF THE MACHINE: LANDSCAPES OF CEMENT AND POWER
12.08.2023 - 09.12.2023
RESEARCH: KIM FÖRSTER AND ERIKA LOANA
Today, concrete is the most widely used building material on earth. The distinct capital driven forces that have pushed the cement industry since its appearance in the 19th century and into its high rise during the 20th, have consolidated it as a material crucial in shaping contemporary natural and artificial landscapes. Its ecological impact extends past the buildings and the land they occupy, holding power over the last two centuries to transform landscapes, natural resources, social and labour structures, economies and environments. From the extraction of raw materials, to the construction of cities, cement is present in all its forms as an agent of change, taking over economies and even the very air that we breathe. The famous mix of five parts limestone (CaCO3), two parts alumino-silicate and added gypsum has radically changed the construction industry, its processes of production, distribution and use, have changed the world.
Mexico is the world’s 14th largest cement-producing nation, home to the second largest cement company in the world, while domestically consuming 97% of all cement it produces. This condition is fueled by a land with 87% of its total made out of limestone, and a regulatory legal frame that exempts the extraction of rocks and products that can only be used for construction purposes, leaving the landscape unprotected against one of the largest industries in the country, and making it the perfect laying ground for it to grow exponentially.
“Ecologies of the Machine: Landscapes of Cement and Power” delves into the multiple ecologies, systems and landscape transformations derived from the economic machine that is the cement industry in Mexico. By examining the historic use of discourse and narratives in the cement industry, the exhibition seeks to reveal the hidden history of such realities, evidencing how they have worked to maintain the power of individuals and groups, presenting the power dynamics underlying socio-technical regimes, while documenting the inevitable and overlooked alterations to the Mexican landscape. The exhibition, as the Kiln —the key piece of technology in cement production— operates as a machine, transforming matter into material, introducing resources, labour and culture, and transforming capital, construction and the environment, structuring cement as a material, an industry, and an ideology.
RESEARCH PROJECT Erika Loana and Kim Förster
Tania Tovar Torres
Juan Carlos Espinosa Cuock
Mayela Pérez Dimas, Paola Pérez Vázquez and Ethel Rivera Pérez
César García Aldape
GRAPHIC DESIGN: Estudio P