Since 2009, tales of the booming Eagle Ford Shale economy have crescendoed and now verge on the fantastic--billions of dollars generated, thousands of jobs created, millions of barrels pumped. But how have people throughout South Texas and beyond made sense of how the rush for shale has impacted their everyday lives and the landscapes they call home?
San Antonio is just a few miles up the road from the most intensive extractive activity in the Eagle Ford Shale, yet discussion of these questions has been largely abstract and limited to the economic dimensions of the boom, with public conversation on benefits and costs coordinated by those in powerful decision-making positions. On the eve of the 3rd annual conference of the Eagle Ford Consortium, the Frackaso exhibit—named as a play on the English word “fracas” (a noisy disturbance or quarrel) and the Spanish word “fracaso” (failure, ruin, bust)—will be San Antonio’s first major public forum to look at fracking from the bottom up. Yet the aim of the exhibit is less to polemicize than to create space for those on various frontlines of fracking to give material expression to their experience, attending to dimensions of the oil and gas boom that often go unaccounted for in the official narratives of government and industry.
In particular, the show highlights the perspectives and voices of those who do not stand to benefit from extraction activity in South Texas and beyond. The creative pieces and testimonios featured in Frackaso have been produced largely by those who do not own land or mineral rights; by women, elders, and children; by those living next door to refineries or other extraction infrastructure; by those whose land or water or health has been damaged; by the mestiz@ descendents of indigenous peoples; by those who feel they have no choice but to seek work in the industry; by those whose bodies and lives bear the uncertainties and ambivalences of a boom that is sure to bust. Artwork featured in Frackaso come from all over North America--from Canada to Mexico to New York State to Cotulla, Texas--and encompass multiple genres, from the literary and visual arts to photography, performance, and installation.
The opening reception at April 18th will feature several visual and performance pieces, including a short documentary on San Antonio’s Calumet refinery; "Frack U, Mexico", a film by Gregory “Gringoyo” Berger (Mexico City, Mexico), an excerpted performance from “The Wellspring Waxwing Museum” by playwright Leslea Kroll (Alberta, Canada), and poetry readings by Kamala Platt and Mobi Warren (San Antonio, Texas).
Artists in the show include: Christina Alvarado • Vicki Baggett • Gregory “Gringoyo” Berger • Sabra Booth • Cade Bradshaw • K. Bruce • Alice Canestraro-Garcia • Marisol Cortez • John Cruz • Janet Culbertson • Julie Dermansky • Margarita Elizarde • Ed Escobedo • Diana Fernandez • Ruth Hardinger • Edna Leal Hinojosa • Leslea Kroll • Carlos Lowry • Brandi Merolla • Gene Novogrodsky • Kamala Platt • Subha Semetaite • Students United for Socioeconomic Justice at UTSA • Mobi Warren • Roger West • The Westside Chamber of Cooperation • J. Williams • Liliana Wilson • Debora Young
Frackaso! will run through August 2014. A series of programs focused on the Rights of Nature philosophy and global movement (titles and dates TBD) will accompany the duration of the show.