If you think you can grasp me, think again is an artistic research project by Diana Barquero that deals with the ongoing transformation of a specific region in Southern Costa Rica: Térraba Sierpe National Wetland (TSNW). This area is recognized as a Ramsar site and protected area of great environmental importance. Nowadays TSNW is being pressured, shrunk and transformed by multiple external forces. Banana, palm oil, rice and pineapple plantations that grow in the wetland’s borders are evidence of an expanding agricultural sector, which is filling land and water with pesticides, fertilizers and polluted sediments in order to satisfy the market consumption of Europe and USA. The research took place between 2018 and 2020 and incorporated field trips, interviews and theoretical research. My main goal consists of imagining new cartographies of this waterscape by using the materialities present in the area and different layers of gathered information. In the present works I ascribe the local with the global in order to understand how the production of this landscape has been mediated by regional and transnational policies through time.
This research recognizes the central role that matter, chemicals and water play in the production of the waterscape and its representations.
One of the proposed artworks consists of an installation of 12 sculptures named ‘conglomerates’ , sculptures that bond together various materials present in the wetland. The materials include soil, fruit carcasses, clay, cement, charcoal, among others. Conglomerate is a geological term that names a sedimentary rock that consists of different materials bonded together. This artwork is a durational, process-based installation, in which conglomerates and water react and transform, altering their materiality and dispersing it through the floor space. Everyday liquids are poured into holes on the stones, affecting them and destroying them in a slow process. Each poured liquid corresponds to elements that are in the wetland or are directly related to it. For example, copper sulfate is the first pesticide used in the region. Fresh and saltwater respond to the water from the sea and rivers that make up the wetland. Pineapple juice responds to a sub-product from pineapple plantations that are affecting the wetland. These conglomerates are arranged over a cotton fabric with a drawn map taken from satelital images of the area. This map is positioned on the floor.
The second piece consists of 2 diagrams which are made on watercolor paper with different materials such as liquefied plants, soil, clay, and the first pesticide used in Costa Rica, called Copper Sulphate. These materials run through the paper, joining and mixing with each other. With the stains left by these traces I proceeded to place specific historical information about the wetland, workers struggles and the macro-conservation models. The diagrams work as fictitious maps (a play between the real and the imaginary) of the wetland, a mental map, where the traces created by pesticides and other liquids order and distribute the arrangement of the information. They are also the dry traces of the transformation process that can be seen in the centre piece (the conglomerates). In this way the traces left by the process of transformation and destruction of conglomerates are traces of a past that continues to be formulated until the present. This game between the trace of what is left and what follows happening is vital for understanding the two pieces and the two moments (what happens and what happened). Diagrams and conglomerates play between the horizontal and the vertical, between the geographical and the geological.