KONGKRETO (the tagalog word for concrete) draws from the 1991 volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippine state of Pampanga, and the subsequent evacuation of the nearby Clark Air Force Base to examine the ongoing effects of American colonialism in the country. Lucy Raven explores this history through video and sculpture developed over the course of nearly two years via Raven’s residency at Bellas Artes Projects in Bataan, Philippines. This exhibition is built around Raven’s inspiration from the history of post-war horror films. Here, the monster is material: concrete. It creeps, it rushes, it fills in every volume of space it touches, blanketing entire regions and immobilizing city life as it invades schools, factories, streets and bedrooms, then hardens and solidifies, swiftly entombing anything lying is in its path. A short film commissioned from this research will debut at Frieze London as part of Frieze Film and publicly broadcast over Channel 4 in Autumn 2018.
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 film 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.