Slowing down the End of the World
Retouched film stills from Terra
For Slowing down the End of the World the artist interferes with material he extracted from the film Terra by Yann Arthus Bertrand and Michael Pitiot. In contrast to most environmental documentaries Terra is told from an abstract hypothetical perspective representing humanity impersonated and narrated by Vanesa Paradis. With the objective of rebuilding the ties between humans and the earth, the film surveys topics like industrial farming, meat production or heavy pollution. Images of wild animals in the Tanzanian forrest are put next to those of farmers pushing cows from one farm to another using helicopters. The relationship between humans and their environment is established to not be mystical anymore but economical.
One segment towards the end of the film gives insight on rhinoceroses moved from closing sanctuaries to different ones. Due to an immense rice-growing project in Namibia which will use the water of the Okavango, its delta is likely to transform into yet another desert. As the date approaches, efforts are made to protect the animals by sedating them, binding their eyes, plugging their ears and flying them to sanctuaries in South Africa.
Though being conscious of the significance of choosing an appropriate point of view, the film fails to give an insight on the animals’ experience during the process by relying completely on an outside perspective.
The artist interferes with the material by retouching the ropes used for binding the animals as well as flipping the images upside down, taking the rhinoceroses‘ perspective. The alteration is similar to the way the wildlife preservers in the film interfere with the environment, giving an immense weight to a seemingly small intervention.
While complicated and impressive, the displacement of a rhinoceros seems like a tiny difference when compared to the levelling of mountains and the divertion of rivers.
The title refers to a quote contained in the film stating that “(...) putting nature into sanctuaries doesn’t do much. It’s a precautionary measure to slow down the end of the world.”