Industrialisation and its revolution is known as the period of social and economic change that transformed a human group from an agrarian society into an industrial one. As industrial workers’ income rose, markets for consumer goods and services of all kinds expanded and provided a further stimulus to industrial investment and economic growth. At the same time giving birth to an environmental pollution that escalated to catastrophic decay of vast terrains leading to today’s global environmental issue.
Since Mia Dudek had moved to Lisbon to start her artist residency she has been developing the series of works Disﬁgurements that focus around Companhia União Fabril (CUF) industrial park in Barreiro on the south bank of the river Tagus.
Barreiro was the main industrial city in Portugal and Spain until 1970 and is known for its political and industrial history. From 1875 until the company was nationalised as a result of the Carnation revolution in 1974, CUF was the largest corporation in Portugal, exporting products worldwide an employing 10 000 people. Under the control of the industrialist Alfredo da Silva, CUF utilised resources from throughout the Portuguese colonies producing a diverse range of goods from petrochemicals, metallurgy and oilseeds to textiles and carpets. From the 1980’s the company slipped in to decline and now largely abandoned due to soil contamination and under the management of Baia do Tejo the area is redeﬁning itself.
Large sections of the area are in ruins and the remains of what was once a large industrial power and economical growth now stand empty and in disrepair. Within one section of the park, the empty warehouses are being repopulated, mainly by young artists, particularly with many contemporary craftsmen working with printing, mould making, industrial paint manufacture and metal work giving the new beginning of major art district in the region of Lisbon.
Having access to restricted areas where the old brutalist remains of the CUF empire stand Mia Dudek has photographed crumbling concrete structures, vast empty warehouses and the alien landscapes of the still contaminated pyrite ﬁelds. She depicts the unknown formless ﬂuids estranged from its matter; continuously growing groups of multicellular spore-producing undeﬁned organisms feeding on organic matter and its chemical compounds.
By mapping the contaminated soil sites Mia Dudek aims to present a critical and artistic approach to the manifest concept of nature: every growth is followed by the decline; every decline is followed by the regrowth. By presenting the polluted yet visually magical, almost cosmic-like terrains the artists is raising already rapidly increasing awareness to environmentalism.
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Capitulo I, AMAC, Barreiro, Portugal