Online 13 Aug 2020 Free

How can communities work together to dismantle oppressive infrastructures which harm our land, air and rivers?

The Campaign

Drawing on her own Colombian-American roots, multidisciplinary artist Carolina Caycedo is researching community-led alternative energy production across the Americas. The basis of her campaign for Back to Earth is her long-running investigation into human interaction with rivers, from access to clean water supplies to toxicity levels and the impact of dams.

“Infrastructure as we know it has been constructed with a climate pattern in place, but under the current uncertain and changing climate conditions, we have seen an increase of infrastructure damage and collapse, in the likes of bursting dam spillways, falling bridges, leaking pipelines, and mine-tailing dam collapses. We are so vulnerable, depending on an energy grid we have absolutely no control over!”Carolina Caycedo

Carolina Caycedo. A drawing inspired in water and oceanic currents, that calls for a Just and Fair Energy Transition by weaving together (clockwise) Indigenous Paradigms, Feminist Economies, Political Incidence, Social Justice, Grassroots Organization, and Environmental Balance.

The Project

Be Dammed, which originated in 2012, is a project whose multiform outcomes (photographic collages, suspended sculptures formed by handmade fishing nets. drawings, books, collective actions and performances) have emerged out of Caycedo’s activism and long-form research methods. Be Dammed looks at the effects of damming rivers on the communities that live around them, and questions the simplistic explanation of hydropower as a clean transition away from fossil fuels.

You can read more about Be Dammed and many of the works connected to it in this audiovisual essay co-written by Cacyedo and ICA Boston here.

For Back to Earth, Caycedo is bringing together a bibliography of useful reference materials, which you can find at the end of this page, and highlighting grass roots organisations and campaigns that call for greater community action and engagement, applying a ‘Just and Fair Energy Transition’ away from extractive mining and towards localised, diverse and sustaining energy grids, while also providing pathways for fossil fuel industry workers to move into new livelihoods.

One of the many things you can do is to sign the petition for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Rivers:


About Carolina Caycedo

Carolina Caycedo (1978) is a multidisciplinary artist known for her performances, video, artist’s books, sculptures, and installations that examine environmental and social issues.  Her work contributes to the construction of environmental historical memory, as a fundamental element for non-repetition of violence against human and non-human entities. She has developed publicly engaged projects in major cities across the globe, and held residencies at the DAAD in Berlin, and The Huntington Libraries, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California, among others. She has participated in numerous international biennales including the Sydney, Chicago Architecture, Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Berlin, Havana, and Whitney Biennials. She has received funding from Creative Capital, Prince Claus Fund, and others.  Caycedo’s recent solo museum exhibitions include From the Bottom of the River at the MCA Chicago (2020-2021); Cosmotarrayas at ICA Boston (2020); Wanaawna, Rio Hondo, and Other Spirits at the Orange County Museum of Art (2019-2020), and Care Report at Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Polonia (2019-2020).

Caycedo’s solo exhibition, Land of Friends at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle is on view from 28 May, 2022–29 Jan, 2023. She was a 2021-2022 inaugural U.S. Latinx Artist Fellow and a 2020-2022 inaugural Borderlands Fellow at the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands at Arizona State University (ASU) and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School.

Back to Earth

Back to Earth invites over sixty leading artists, architects, poets, filmmakers, scientists, thinkers and designers to devise artist-led campaigns and initiatives in response to the environmental crisis.

This is a multi-year project that is unfolding across the Serpentine’s programmes onsite, offsite and online throughout 2020 and beyond, with a major group exhibition in 2021. Throughout Back to Earth, our website will become an ever-growing, living archive of artist campaigns – we encourage you to revisit often to discover new perspectives, resources and calls to action.

We invite you to join us on this mission to reimagine new ways of being on and with Earth in the face of a climate crisis which threatens our existence.


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