Basta de contaminar (Stop Polluting)

Nicolás Uriburu


Painting, 500 x 1500 cm.
Materials: Synthetisch email op doek

Collection: Colección Azul García Uriburu.

In the 1990s, Uriburu began collaborating with Greenpeace to protest industrial pollution, nuclear waste and endangered species in Argentina. The collaboration between the Argentine artist, who has been at the forefront of ecological art since 1960, and Greenpeace, a nongovernmental organization founded in 1971, is exceptional in that the NGO has never been very eager to get involved in the artistic sphere (they reportedly refused a Joseph Beuys proposal for collaboration).

Between 1998 and 2010, the artist and Greenpeace activists collaborated three times in public spaces to expose environmental scandals. The first action took place in 1998 against the construction of a trans-Andean gas pipeline, the route of which would cut in half the natural habitat of the Yaguaretés, an endangered species of jaguar. Against the wishes of the management of the Buenos Aires National Museum of Fine Arts, where Uriburu was exhibiting, they secretly climbed the façade to hang a 10-by-15-meter banner. The banner depicts the animal cut in half with the word GASODUCTO.

In 1999 and in 2010, they took action on the Riachuelo River in Buenos Aires. The river is still one of the most polluted places in the world, contaminated with toxic heavy metals. For both actions, Uriburu designed a banner. "Basta de contaminar" depicts fish skeletons and skulls and was hung from a bridge. For "Riachuelo: 200 years of pollution," an allusion to the celebration of Argentina's bicentennial, the river was coloured green.  Uriburu and Greenpeace traded national revelry for anger by highlighting the 200-year history of pollution of this urban river – from waste and by-products of tanneries and slaughterhouses in 1810 to contemporary industrial waste and untreated sewage in 2010.

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