A Petrified Forest, A Calculated Plume, 2021
BAK, basis voor actuele kunst / Utrecht (NL)
No Linear Fucking Time
3 December 2021 – 30 April 2022
Curated by Rachel Rakes with artist-interlocutors Claudia Martínez Garay, Femke Herregraven, and Jumana Manna


A Petrified Forest, A Calculated Plume, 2021

Sculptural work of ceramics and 20-million year old petrified wood from java; framed silkscreen print on dibond and acyrlate of Dutch colonial geological drawings from the 1910s, geological diagrams, remote sensing images, and archival materials; two-channel video with live footage of Merapi volcano and video essay


Amid the current reality where volcanic eruptions are traded at lightning speeds on financial markets, A Petrified Forest, A Calculated Plume by Femke Herregraven activates the Merapi volcano on Java Island as a nonlinear examination of the relations between its ecological, financial, technological, and spiritual environment. Since the beginning of the Dutch colonial era (1800–1949), the Merapi volcano on Java Island has been the most surveyed volcano in the world. It is subject to intense scientific monitoring, prediction, and research, and more recently financial speculation. Merapi, which is the physical and spiritual home to local communities, has since 2021 been enveloped inside the financial algorithm of the first-ever volcanic catastrophe bond. A Petrified Forest, A Calculated Plume explores how the cosmology of Merapi unsettles the progressive algorithm of surveillance—initially executed by the Dutch colonial government, then by the scientific community, and now by financial investors. The mixed-media installation brings together a 20-million-year-old petrified forest from Java, colonial geological drawings, live footage from Merapi, and an animated ash plume which together merge the mythology of the volcano with the mythology of science that believes it is able to predict a linear extrapolation of Merapi. The work is also a reminder of the volcano’s ability to melt everything into a shapeless mass in which not only matter but also language, definitions, and the separation of opposites cease to exist. Merapi’s potential for destruction defies the progressive algorithm of prediction and instead hosts the images of all creation.

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With: John Berger, Mike Dibb, Chris Rawlence, Hemali Bhuta, Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, Simone Fattal, Amelia Groom, Femke Herregraven, Tehching Hsieh, Jumana Manna, Claudia Martínez Garay, Vibeke Mascini, Jean Katambayi Mukendi, Yuri Pattison, Antonio Paucar, Rita Ponce de León, Rachael Rakes, Susan Schuppli, Sissel Tolaas, Antonio Vega Macotela