Tamas Dezsö

Totem Conflatura


Western red cedar, aluminium

95 x 33.5 x 9.8 in.

Totem Conflatura was directly inspired by the large-scale forest fires devastating the woods in the Sierra Nevada, which can be mostly attributed to global warming. In the Sequoia National Park local fire-fighters wrapped fire-proof aluminium covers around the feet of the enormous several-thousand-year-old trees. Aluminium covers can cope with intensive heat only for a very short time. The melting point of aluminium is 660°C / 1220°F, which is far lower than the inner temperature (1100°C / 2000°F) of forest fires in recent years.

The Latin word conflatura means metal melted by fire. The history of melting and shaping various metals goes back to the early period of the Anthropocene and it fundamentally changed the relationship between human beings and nature. The process of aluminium production has changed little since the 19th century and is one of the most energy-intensive and polluting industrial activities on the planet. Aluminium production has more than doubled between 2000 and 2020, and is responsible for the annual discharge of 1.1 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases at present.

Thus sequoia trees tend to be safeguarded with a material whose production contributes to trees having to be protected at all. To use aluminium for that purpose represents a perfect vicious circle of interconnectedness and the resulting finitude of possible actions: humans and sequoias, the aluminium blanket and the aluminium industry, the forest and the forest fire, are all in the all-encompassing, planetary-scale 'belly' of climate change.

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