Alexis Rockman’s Mazaruni River (1994) plunges the viewer into the watery world polluted by large-scale gold dredging in Guyana. The hyper-realistic scene is simultaneously seductive and terrifying, as sunny skies and tropical green foliage belie the river’s toxicity.
Likewise, the ramifications of gold mining on local ecosystems are often overlooked for the sake of the trade. Playful details, such as the diving iguana and the fluttering butterfly exist alongside the fading body of a piranha, nearly engulfed by thickly poured vanish. Typical of the artist’s work, which often depicts surreal apocalyptic visions, this painting nevertheless suggests resilience through the animated actions of creatures in an adapting ecosystem.
Photographed in The Brooklyn Museum