When I was recounted the story I immediately knew I must journey on to the Plain of Jars. While I could embrace the extraordinary mystery of its origins I could not believe its incredible demise. And there it was, hundreds of acres of gigantic and ancient stone jars from the Iron Age, a baffling feat of faith and courage. Their circular shapes reaching out to the sky whilst the gigantic bomb craters reached deep into the ground. Two sides of the same coin rolled out at my feet, a tapestry of beauty and destruction. The traditional pet pythons barely moved, their magnetic trance as fascinating as the united vision. This is my war.
During the Vietnam war, 2 million metric tons of bombs were dropped on Laos, over nine years at the rhythm of one every eight minutes. The Plain of Jars was the most targeted location, making it the most bombed location on the planet to date. Laos was never at war, but was simply collateral damage, sadly prefiguring the wars of the last 30 years.
Music credit: Coldnoise - Inside 2013
Their story had been unfolding for months, their voices prophesying through social media their singular tale of injustice. When the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe invited me, I didn’t hesitate for a second. Going there, I felt, would be documenting new history.
At the Oceti Sakowin camp I found an historical gathering of Native American Tribes and supporters from all over the world standing in nonviolent solidarity to protect the water and sacred places threatened by the Dakota Access Pipeline and their private militia.
We placed the symbols for the TimeShrine, while their peaceful protest unraveled up the hill. An unforeseen direct action installation on Thanksgiving Day. Art for the future.
The Sioux consider the defense of Mother Earth - Unci Maka – the main purpose of their life; for the benefit of their tribe but also for the protection of all human beings across the planet.
Music credit: Bortex - One Moment
The rangers told me they would come and drink at this water hole. Only great bulls, their own bush rules. I created my TimeShrine with the bones of elephants killed by poachers and with confiscated poisoned arrows and spears, more silent than an AK47 and a lot more painful. I sat there from dawn to dusk, mesmerised by their telepathic dance. Suddenly they swapped water holes as if on cue. It was so absolutely perfect I almost missed my shot.
In Africa every year more elephants are killed than born. Poaching and continued loss of habitat could make elephants extinct in the wild as early as 2020.
I went to Lampedusa and created the TimeShrine as a symbolic plea to stop the refugee crisis. I chose November, the month when millions of people honor the dead. I entered the boat cemetery and selected some abandoned items for my installation. I fixed the broken piece of bow with my life-jacket; they were almost the same color. Chrysanthemums, the “golden flowers”, look like eternity: a symbol of death in the West, of life in the East.
Today every minute 20 people are forced to flee their homes. The United Nations estimates that by 2050 there will be around 750 million refugees roaming the planet. Most of them will be climate refugees.
Roads barely paved. Bactrian camels, descendants of the ones Marco Polo left behind. Desert roses as crisp as the air, hiding their roots in precious Siachen glacier water, snow and sand. Ancient coins discovered at the local market, polished by generations of hopeful hands, burned by the sun and the ice. I imagined the ancient Silk Route, for millennia a network of trade, sharing and learning.
Today the Nubra valley is a closed military zone because of the conflict between India and Pakistan over ownership of the Siachen Glacier water reserves. Often called the world’s highest battlefield, the glacier provides water for tens of millions of people in both countries. It may completely melt by the end of the century.
In the Himalayas lakes are as beautiful as they are venerated. Up here Nature’s perfection has been sacralized since the night of time. I found piles of stones carved with goodness-giver mantras and towers of hopeful slates. As if every single piece of mineral around the lake had been touched and cherished by a worshipping hand. At dusk the clouds parted and we placed on my TimeShrine six red carvings for this six-syllabled Sanskrit mantra of compassion. The consumed prayer flags flapped as my Vanitas respectfully smiled.
Corsica, my native island, is full of myths and legends. The songs of the ancient village of Muna are some of my favorites. A secret place where humans since the night of time lived high and safe from invaders and now inhabited by a single man. From its venerable stones, 1.800m above the sea, you can perfectly observe the surrounding waters. In May roses display their extraordinary colors, as strong and resilient as the prehistoric