Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

Resisting the Flood

Artist talk

6.00pm 13 June 2024

Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery

For The Zone, artist Raúl Ortega Ayala made multiple visits into the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant documenting the repercussions of a failed technological development on a monumental scale. Ortega Ayala’s practice is characterised by lengthy research into a subject often using a variety of anthropological methods - like participant observation, fieldwork or embodiment of knowledge - to absorb himself in his selected topic. Of particular interest to the artist at the moment are the ways in which societies remember, forget or repress their past.

In this conversation with curator Sophie Thorn, Ortega Ayala discusses current research he is conducting around the village of Temacapulín in Mexico. Temacapulín and the adjoining townships of Acasico and Palmarejo are known for setting an international precedent in water conflict resolution in 2021 after winning a sixteen year fight not to be flooded by the proposed El Zapotillo dam, a megadam known as ‘the dam of corruption’. Coincidentally, as Ortega Ayala and Thorn will discuss, the township is also home to historic murals depicting scenes of flooding pre-dating the major infrastructure proposal.

Raúl Ortega Ayala in collaboration with Dmytro Konovalov, Valerii Savytskyi, Roberto Rubalcava, Dmytro Tiazhlov, Iain Frengley, Undergroundsound and Tim Prebble, The Zone, 2020, Single channel HD video, 5.1 audio, 36 minutes, 2 seconds, courtesy the artist. Installation view Raúl Ortega Ayala The Zone in Infrastructure: power, politics and imagination, Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, 2024. Photo: Ted Whitaker.