Until June 27th, Pedro David has filled the Galeria da Gávea’s beautiful space in Rio de Janeiro with his exhibition Extração Inframundo (Underground Extraction), bringing together works produced during six years in the area where he lives, the north of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.
Carried along by the thought that the artist “is someone deeply dissatisfied with the world as it is, which leads him to create his own worlds“, in 360 Metros Quadrados (360 Square Metres) Pedro David uses Polaroids to photograph his immediate environment, such as the objects that surround him on a daily basis or even the objects he collects. Imposing instructions on himself not to cross the boundaries of his neighbourhood, through these images the artist nevertheless hopes to show a reflection of the world as it exists beyond the borders of his daily life, almost as if they are images of a journey around the world.
In the gallery’s main space, Pedro David is showing two sets of works for the first time in a single hanging. The first of them, Madeira de Lei, depicts the areas of eucalyptus monoculture planted by iron and steel companies for the production of charcoal. In David’s photographs, the regular, monotonous pattern of the vertical lines formed by the eucalyptus trunks is interrupted by undulating plant forms, trees of other species, which occupy the space in a singularly organic way. Their presence, uniquely, “owed to a law preventing the cutting of certain species of native trees threatened with extinction that would normally grow in the fields occupied by the monoculture”, he explains, caught his eye, drawn to these resistant forms born into an environment hostile to diversity.
Into this first work, Pedro David blends the most recent images of the excavations carried out in the rocks and earth that he encountered in his region, a territory where the mining presence is very powerful — the neighbourhood where the artist lives is itself penetrated by three multinational mining concessions. These are the wounds inflicted on the land around his home that David photographs, excavations sometimes carried out by the inhabitants themselves in their own residential neighbourhoods, so that the digging up of the land to exploit it has become a current activity in the region.
As a reflection of these images, Pedro David is showing some sculptures whose creation the artist incorporates into his photographic activities; so that, for him, sculpture is just like photography, a means of recording, of retranslating elements from reality.
In Extração Inframundo, Pedro David reveals issues specific to the territory where he lives in the north of the Minas Gerais state, but which are also those which ravage Brazil on a grand scale: the excessive exploitation of the land, the deforestation engendered by the omnipresence and the expansion of monocultures that destroy and threaten the biodiversity and the natural balance of the territories… So many ways of engaging with our environment and nature that the photographer lets us look at critically.
Elsa Leydier is a photographer and author specialising in photography. She divides her time between Lyon and Rio de Janeiro.
Pedro David Extração Inframundo
From 5th May to 27th June 2018
Galeria da Gávea, Rua Marquês de São Vicente 432
Gávea, Rio de Janeiro