Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Brandon Ballengée – Seasons in Hell

Brandon Ballengée – Seasons in Hell
16 February – 28 July 2014
Museum Het Domein
Kapittelstraat 6
6331 ER Sittard
The Netherlands

photographs by Peter Foolen © 2014, Brandon Ballengée, Museum Het Domein

Of over 5000 known amphibious species, no less than one third are known to be extinct or on the decline. They are the 'canaries' in their particular coal mines, indicating damage to their habitats – air and water, the mediums of their metamorphoses (and our own survival). Amphibian deformities were reported as far back as 250 years, but it was not until around 1995 that mass occurrences alerted the scientific community. Its concerns were picked up by the mass media, since frogs resemble human victims. Initially it was feared that chemical pollution was causing the birth defects, but now it seems more likely that chemical fertilizers may create better habitats for the snail-borne parasites that cause extra legs; pollutants like DDT can increase the rate at which some predators can capture tadpoles.

In the 2002 Ecoventions catalogue, Ballengée asked 'The BIG Question': "Why are there fewer amphibians?" Among the answers are habitat modification and loss, followed by emerging diseases (fungus, viruses, and perhaps those parasites), climate change, invasive species, pollution of all kinds, overcollection of amphibians for food and pets – "death by a thousand cuts," as Ballengée puts it.

Lucy R. Lippard – One by One: Brandon Ballengée's Malformed Amphibian Project (in the catalogue Brandon Ballengée – Malamp, the Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians, The Arts Catalyst & Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2010)

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