Desert Flood
Claudia Comte, Gabriel Rico, SUPERFLEX
Curated by Jérôme Sans & Cristobal Riestra
LagoAlgo
February 10-July 30, 2023

LagoAlgo is a space resulting from a period of radical questioning of our ways of life and their consequences. Focused on current socio-ecological issues, it aims at considering art as a guide toward new models in harmony with nature. For its third chapter, LagoAlgo presents Desert Flood. The exhibition confronts us with the reality of a world that has become paradoxical. Around contemporary ecological issues –particularly water scarcity– the exhibition Desert Flood brings together the artists Claudia Comte (Switzerland, 1983), Gabriel Rico (Mexico, 1980) and SUPERFLEX (Denmark, founded in 1993), not as an umpteenth “wake up call,” but in the perspective of an ecological thought in action.

From the cell to the planet, every ecosystem is governed by a principle of dynamic equilibrium, a constant homeostatic regulation of physical and chemical conditions, which arrange the living and its environment. Therefore, sustainable development is a semantic aberration. Any species, including our own, functions on a principle of stability, not growth. At a time when such oxymorons are everywhere, the instrumentalization of nature, which is supposed to respond to the “needs of current generations without compromising those of future generations”, is part of a dynamic of commodification whose limits are now very clear.

Combining modernist and pop references into environmental installations, Claudia Comte raises awareness about desertification through her signature cactus sculptures whilst a dreadful laugh invades the exhibition space. Indeed, from the expansion of cities since the first Industrial Revolution to that of desert regions (in just a century we have witnessed more than 10% expansion of the surface of the Sahara), the artist draws unexpected correlation. Underlining the rise in water levels (up to 14% of the world’s population, or 1 billion people, will be affected by 2050), collective SUPERFLEX completes the paradox initiated by Claudia Comte. Facing these mistakes as the products of the modernist split between nature and culture and an economically-constructed vision of the Earth, Gabriel Rico calls out our way of occupying the planet and invites us to understand and connect to it; to live with it.

While the scientific community is unanimous about global warming, the figures are clear and the devastating effects already widely visible. No “global change” seems to have really been initiated. For more than half a century, an infertile debate has thus agitated politics on an axis with two possible directions: progress or regression. In this polarized world in which neither facts nor effects seem to trigger a reaction, the hope of a common metric lies, perhaps, in the world of representation. Formalized in the development of the Gaia Hypothesis by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulies, the notion of global change is a conceptual base, an image, which invites us to consider the Earth as a whole, a complex system with multiple interacting parts. Flooded deserts and dried-up seas: at a time of radicalization of the elements, nature becomes territory, not to be owned but to be inhabited.