Rifts

In Africa, rifts are  deeply felt from both the geography and the politics. Geologically there is something deeply divisive at the boundary of the earth’s tectonic plates on both sides of the Rift Valley.  And there are social divisions that come between races and life-styles

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The African artist Georgia Papageorge uses red cloths pouring across the landscape in much of her work. She calls them “arterial lines” and they represent the blood and the power of different forces in Africa. They pour across the landscape at the East African Rift Valley where plate tectonics has big scale effects on what we see.

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This is also the site of Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro with a permanent cap of snow. But that is about to change due to the increase in greenhouse gases from materialist life styles. Georgia Papageorge has also captured those forces in her drawings.

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Recently, Georgia has donated her triptych Kilimanjaro Southern glaciers to the British Museum.  These drawings use a sequence of photographs taken in 1898, 1996 and 2010 showing the mountain’s shrinking glaciers

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The warming temperature on the mountain shows up as a red curve overlying each photograph and drawing.

Her 2008 Bloodlines uses this idea across a road in the formerly divided Eastern Cape where the communities now come together from different sides.

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Papageorge is now campaigning to increase awareness of climate change. Her fear is that the resolution of racial difficulties will lead to an eventual increase the greenhouse gases from Africa itself. So often in science, one problem is resolved by establishing another.

Thanks to Chris Spring at britishmuseum.org