EXHIBITION VIEW: Climate + \ - / DIMANTIONS: 5 x 3 x 2m / SurVivArt project / MATERIAL: discarded jerrycans, clay, recycled rope/ LOCATION: Harla, Dire-Dawa, Ethiopia / DATE: 7 November 2011
Climate +\ -
Harla primary school, Dire-Dawa, Ethiopia
I was invited to realize a project on the framework of SurVivArt in the public space of Harla, a small village near Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. Starting with a conversation about how people and communities realize their right to a good life, I established a local resource group with people from the community of Harla, among them elementary school children played a huge role in the project. The discussions about the use of plastic jerry cans were discussed with school children as a way of addressing the issue of ecology, pollution, and climate change.
The everyday use of plastic jerry cans has replaced the traditional clay pots for everything from construction tools to kitchen appliances in the rural communities in contemporary Ethiopian culture. We discussed the long-term consequences of the use of jerry cans, as well as how their use reflects on gender issues; women today still use the traditional clay pots in their everyday life, while men use jerry cans. the discussions focused on how the introduction of new technologies, in this the plastic jerry cans, changes traditional ways in the pursuit of a better life and how these changes have both good and bad consequences. The usefulness of plastic jerry cans vs the plastic taste of the water, or the shift in the traditional division of labor between women and men; the jerry cans ergonomic feature allows men to participate in everyday labor to a greater extent. While the ceramic clay pot has become redundant in everyday life, it is held on to by women due to an unspoken emotional bond.
Following the discussions, the resource group collaboratively raised a five-meter-high structure installed inside the compound of the Harla elementary school. Most of the jerry cans were collected by the school children and the construction was done with the help of their parents, masons, and carpenters from the community. A variety of herbs and medicinal plants were planted in the jerry cans placed at the base of the sculpture