"Wild Men of...", from the series "A HISTORY OF...," / 2023

Mr. Pietro Lo Casto / Italy

“A HISTORY OF…” is a long-term artistic investigation into the illicit teak trade in
Northern Thailand. Through a combination of mediums and material, the series explores how Western colonial influence has shaped the past, present, and future of the Salween river borderlands of Thailand, transforming it into a site devoted to capital extraction.
In “Wild Men of…” I use mixed media collages to demonstrate how strategies of power shift over time to make way for new modes of extraction that are rooted in the same exploitative logics as those that came before them. Starting with archival images from Thailand’s colonially-backed teak extraction, I replace key components of these images with representations of contemporary, neocolonial extractionist strategies. Depictions of loggers and colonial forestry officials are swapped out for spreadsheets of data, maps of river systems, and schematics for hydropower technologies that play a critical role in the transformation of living ecologies into mere resources. Rusted steel frames surrounding the images draw a material connection to the industrial tools and machinery that were integral to both the teak trade along the Salween River and the destructive hydropower geo-engineering projects that would come later.

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