Álvaro Laiz
Artist Statement

© Nani Gutiérrez

“Exploring and creating new paths to reach our destination is part of our DNA. With The Edge, the intersection between scientific thought and empirical knowledge was the starting point for seeking a more meaningful understanding of where we are headed and reflecting on alternative ways of inhabiting time.

When I first started this project almost seven years ago, I never thought it would take me so long to complete. If seven years ago in Russia someone had told me that I would end up traveling the entire Americas from end to end, it would have seemed impossible.

A lot has changed since then … there has been a pandemic that has forced us to rethink everything, from the most basic to our impact on the planet. Inspired by this understanding of ourselves as having a common experience in time, in 2021 I began working with Nicky Ure at UreCulture to open up new routes to connect art with sustainability. From this alliance an idea laboratory was born, encompassing everything from analysing and offsetting the carbon footprint of the entire project to incorporating circular design into the exhibition to reduce its environmental impact. I believe that one of the most beautiful functions of art is to envisage worlds that do not yet exist, to imagine them, give them form, help them be born and seen. Beyond the Edge explores a further step: combining the power of storytelling with data analysis to seek a more sustainable future for all.

The Edge covers a vast territory, from the Bering Strait in Russia to the entire Americas. Over the last six and a half years, I have worked alongside the Chukchi and Yupik peoples in the Arctic Circle; the Navajo population in New Mexico, Utah and Arizona; the Mixteco and Chatino peoples on the west coast of Mexico; and Aymara and Quechua groups in Bolivia and Peru, along the Andean mountain range to Chile and Tierra del Fuego — a journey of over 250,000 km that has made me reconsider my every belief about identity, time and space.

This journey would have been impossible without the wisdom, generosity and collaborative spirit with which I was received in every one of these communities, which opened doors for me to share alternative visions and create new bonds. The project is what it is thanks to the friendship and unconditional support of people like Olga, Rocío, Galina, Marsha, Fabien, Misha and Victor, and for that I will be forever grateful.”

Álvaro Laiz
THE CAVERN, Four-channel video installation, 1080 x 1920 cm and Dolby Atmos sound installation © Álvaro Laiz
Postcards for Tomorrow, 2022. Simultaneous installation of several slide projectors © Álvaro Laiz
The Edge: highlight

Postcards for tomorrow

In 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 took a photograph of our planet from space, floating in the immensity of the cosmos. This photograph was called The Blue Marble. It triggered a change in our conception of our role in the universe, reinforcing the immensity of space and the smallness of Earth. The Blue Marble made us reassess our position in the cosmos and reminded us that we are not its owners, as well as revealing the immeasurable vastness of nature.

At the same time, The Blue Marble became an icon of environmentalism. Today, we are aware of the planet’s deterioration at the hands of humankind, and how the use of technology has led to deforestation, global warming, desertification, extreme climatic events, and more. This will push the planet to destruction if we do not find a remedy. Laiz shows us the effects of our actions in the Americas by extensively documenting issues of environmental justice with large-scale impacts, from the Bering Sea in the north to Tierra de Fuego in the south.

Postcards from Tomorrow documents more than 400 cases demonstrating how human action has destroyed and transformed nature, counterposed with satellite images of settlements predating the Clovis culture, presented in two intersecting timelines.

“We all become indigenous of a place when we act as if the future of our children matters to us, when we look after the earth as if our lives, material and spiritual, depend on this.”
— Robin Wall Kilmmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass