Adrián Balseca

Hierbas Malas, 2023

In the project designed for the “Nunca lo mismo” – Latin American Art section, Balseca delves deeper into the theme of extractivist practices and their environmental repercussions on land, focusing specifically on the exploitation of Ecuadorian soil. This exploitation has been to the detriment of indigenous populations, with Western oil corporations, particularly those like the Texaco / Chevron Oil Corporation, reaping the benefits.

The project’s title, Traducciones crudas | Crude translations, draws from the Spanish version of the seminal work Amazon Crude (1991) by American jurist and political scientist Judith Kimerling. Kimerling’s book emerged as a critical legal resource in Ecuador during the 1990s, exposing for the first time the socio-environmental offenses committed by Texaco / Chevron in the Ecuadorian Amazon since 1964.

Balseca’s four tapestries reinterpret “Collector’s Series” tractor prints from 1981 by ORTHO, a Chevron agrochemicals brand until its 1993 sale to Monsanto. Initially reimagined in watercolor drawings by Balseca, these illustrations were then rendered into large-format jacquards. The tapestries show plow tractors, sprayers, mowers, and trucks, originally situated in North American farmlands, now repositioned in the “Pozo Lago Agrio 06” area of Nueva Loja, Ecuador. Here, the aggressive growth of local vegetation appears to reclaim and consume the remnants of agricultural industry. The transition from a harmonious man-machine-nature relationship to one where nature overtakes the mechanical remnants and pollution of modern petro-capitalism is stark. Each tapestry replaces the original descriptions of the agricultural machinery, once powered by Chevron oil, with captions that underscore the environmental devastation wrought by extensive oil drilling.