Silvy Crespo (born 1981) is a French-Portuguese documentary photographer and writer whose work engages in new forms of imperialism and contemporary conflicts about the extraction of natural resources.
The Land of Elephants is a series that raises awareness of struggles against the opening of a new mine after lithium was discovered in the village of Covas de Barroso in northern Portugal. Portugal is already Europe’s largest lithium producer, and the Portuguese government wants to consolidate this position by expanding mining of the metal, which is a critical component in batteries for electric vehicles. In her black and white images, Crespo tells a story of ‘exploitation and resistance in the land of the white gold’. She questions the true intentions of the government and foreign investors, who are promising employment and economic growth in the remote area. Pitted against them are locals who oppose the development, fearing that the mine will damage the landscape and contaminate water supplies, thereby disrupting the sustainable agriculture on which their economy depends. Ultimately, Crespo’s work asks: ‘Who could think that an open pit mine could guarantee ecological salvation when between the mountains, the ruins of the mining past stand still, traces and omens of pillaged resources and duped aspirations?’
Silvy Crespo received a BA in photography from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.
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