In “The Flow of Matter”, Stefano Cagol (Trento, 1969) reflects on anthropogenic interference in the balances, cycles and movements of the elements, inspired by the growing phenomenon of the migration of sand from the Sahara Desert to the coasts of the Canary Islands. Winds, tides, atmospheric circulation and ocean currents influenced by human impact: trade winds, haze, the Canary current and the Azores anticyclone, all so relevant for the planetary climate as a whole. The migration of elements in the earth’s crust was first studied a hundred years ago by the geologist Alexander Fersman, and scientists continually warn us that altered balances lie at the root of climate change. However, these phenomena remain difficult for most to understand because they are variable, diffuse and multiform, called “hyperobjects” by the philosopher Timothy Morton.
“The flow of matter” is a participatory conceptual installation linked to the performances carried out on the island of Gran Canaria by Cagol in the days prior to the installation at Doramas. Just as with the piece “Ice monolith”, which Cagol presented at the Venice Biennial in 2013, here too only one element is used for conceptual presence, in this case, a sandbox – a piece of minimalist appearance that conceals numerous layers of interpretation around the issue of climate change. Sand is chosen as a symbol of flowing matter, our impact on the flow of matter and also as the world’s second most used element. Sand is used on such a scale in building processes that it is disappearing in its natural form.
The installation of this sandbox in Doramas Park allows the public to interact with it: playing, writing in the sand… and building shapes. The act of building with sand is a symbol of the Anthropocene, a symbol of our arrogance in controlling the environment. This is a relational work of art that can be used by children from the age of 3 to 99. It is a joyful piece, which at the same time functions as a generator of reflections on the climate.
The piece is extended with a Net.art experience at SaladeArteSocial.COM, in which we can follow the artist’s movements and actions around the island of Gran Canaria, emulating the natural migration of matter.