Almost exactly one year since his last visit to Sumatra, artist and activist Ernest Zacharevic went back to Western Indonesia to complete another project for the ongoing Splash And Burn initiative. Seeking to use the presence of art in critical areas to initiate wider conversation on issues affecting community, consumerism, climate change and wildlife, the Lithuanian artist and his team produced a striking intervention carved directly into the scarred Sumatran landscape.
Once again teaming up with the Orangutan Information Centre, a local charity working with the UK-based Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS), the intervention took place at the 50 hectares palm oil plantation that the charities acquired with the help of Lush. The cosmetics retailer last year released a limited edition of orangutan soaps in coordination with SOS, aiming to raise funds to purchase a piece of land for the organization. Adapting his work process and concepts to the given situation, Zacharevic created a large piece of land art spanning over 20 hectares. Since the entire area had to be cleared of palms in order to reclaim and restore native forest, the artist and his team started the process by cutting off hand picked trees in order to send off a distress call. By selectively removing oil palms in the buffer zone on the edge of the national park, the remaining trees now spell out the letters SOS. Save Our Souls refers not only to the orangutans whose habitat is being lost every week to illegal agriculture in the protected area, but to the entire once lush green rainforest and people living around it.
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