BE DAMMED (ongoing Project)

El Quimbo Construction

BE DAMMED is a research-based project that explores concepts of Flow and Containment, particularly looking at the interrelations between the planning and construction of large water dams/reservoirs, and mechanisms of social control. In the next three years I want to focus on three case studies: The currently under-construction hydro-electric dams of Quimbo and Hidroituango (Colombia), and Belo-Monte (Brasil).

The continuos documentation over time of these large constructions, permits visualizing the effects of mega-infrastructures over the natural and social landscapes; on a local and global scale. Electricity produced will mostly be exported. The molding of nature is the molding of society.


BE DAMMED is a constellation of projects/case studies that shine on their own, but also accumulate conforming a whole. I envision working on this open/long-term research for the next 5 years at least. It started in 2012 in Colombia. Currently I am visiting historical dam constructions in Germany and Southern-California.

At this moment I am exploring the interrelations between social repression, and the planning and construction of water dams/reservoirs. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water by stopping the flow of a river. By analogy, we can think of repression as a power instance that also interrupts the flow of social and community organization. Today, the construction of these mega-infrastructures are affecting nature’s balance and populations in countries like Colombia, Brazil, China and Turkey. Historically in places like Southern California, Germany, and Spain, community displacement is intrinsic to the construction of water reservoirs.

Archival and contemporary documents, maps, images and footage; field excursions to reservoir sites; performances exploring the act of interruption and barricading, amongst others, will conform a visual output, that brings to the surface the historical, political, ecological, visual, and economic connotations of these relations.

Some questions:

-How does the Anthopocene premise relate to hydroelectruc mega-infrastructural construction around the world?

-How do dams and reservoirs become an integral part of our image of nature?

-Are dams built decades ago remnants of obsolete technology?

-What is the difference between modern dams and postmodern mega-infrastructural dams?

-If hydroelectric architecture and infrastructure are part machine culture, could police be considered part of power machinery? How do they [dams and police] represent power?

-Both in contemporary dam planning and social repression strategies, what remains underwater? What is submerged or invisible?

-Is police the face, the facade, the frontality of established power? Are they walls that protect a ‘structure’ or system?

-What is the role of scale in police repression and dam construction?

-If social promise and development are distraction techniques of mega-infrastructures today, could security be a distractor in military/police social repression?

-Is corporate construction of dams in Latino-america a continuation of the colony?

-Is a dam a siege of nature? Is security a siege of community?