"Internal Properties of the Earth" is American artist Lucy Raven’s first solo exhibition in Asia. The exhibition presents ten years of work that stem from Raven’s longstanding exploration of the American landscape through its analog and wireless connections to global networks of labor and material extraction and exchange across China, India, the Philippines, and the United States.
The exhibition debuts a new photographic series Fire and Mud (2018-2019), drawing inspiration from the 1991 volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Central Island of Luzon state and the subsequent evacuation of the nearby Clark Air Force Base in Angeles City to examine the ongoing effects of American colonialism in the country. Raven explores this history through photographs, produced as part of an ongoing film project developed over the last two years as part of her residency at Bellas Artes Projects in Bataan, Philippines.
Clark was the largest US airbase outside the United States for most of the 20th century—backstage for America's involvement in all of the wars of the Pacific theater, the site of Reagan's evacuation of Ferdinand Marcos; and a city in itself with a resident population of 15,000. Despite growing Filipino opposition to the base beginning the 1980s, the US military showed no signs of leaving—until Mt. Pinatubo's unexpected eruption (beginning on, of all days, Filipino Independence Day) forced its evacuation and eventual return of the base to the Philippines. Due to its massive energetic detonation, Pinatubo ejected not lava, but a molten, ashy, pyroclastic flow, called lahar, which, combined with an ill-timed typhoon, distributed the material in a devastating spiral of ashy downpours throughout the region. Lahars, known as wet concrete, solidify as they cool, first burying, then immobilizing anything in their path. They also have a seemingly endless afterlife: each new significant rainstorm remobilizes inert lahar deposits upstream, causing a cascade of destruction and uncertainty. Raven’s Fire and Mud series is a study into these unpredictable state changes from liquid to solid and back again, as a means to explore the larger implications and effects of state change.