2007-10, Oil on Linen, 100 x 100cm
Finalist, 2008 Mortimore Art Prize
Everything is for sale. From invisible spectrum and undersea land rights to the prospect of future rainfall, everything has been commodified, with desires of corporations pitted against the requirements of many - from flora and fauna to human needs. Often the victims are the poor and disenfranchised.
Bolivia is short of water. Having already privatised its railways, telephones, airlines and hydrocarbon industry at the behest of the World Bank, in 2000 Bolivia was informed that the World Bank would not extend any loans for the expansion of the water service unless it too was privatised. The service was sold to a consortium of English, Italian & American corporations, who first reneged on their promises to expand it with more dams and pipes, and then hiked the rates so the peasant farmers - amongst the world’s poorest - were paying more for water than for food. A threat to turn off the tap unless they paid led to mass protests, deaths, a state of emergency, and eventually, a people-power revolt that democratically changed the government. The region is still short of water.