Invisible Disruption: The Cultural Politics of Hydraulic Fracturing in Colorado

Denise Fernandes
Shelby McAuliffe

On view
Exhibition planned for Summer/Fall 2020  — dates to be announced pending resolution of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Project funded by the Nature, Science, Environment, and Technology (NeST) Studio for the Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Invisible Disruption unfolds within the contentious landscape of Colorado oil and gas production sites. The images and audio focus on petrochemical sites at the border of Boulder and Weld counties in northeastern Colorado, showcasing voices that determine resource allocation, the ensuing cultural politics, and resulting disruptions. The work here attempts to highlight the physical and cultural divisions between individuals and communities interacting at different scales with varying perspectives.

Through close observation of the landscape, following the physically demarcated county line, we have witnessed the realities of clashing urban and rural conceptions of space; the changing demands of livelihoods at odds with ecosystem management; the divergent perceptions of land and resource use; the complicated and contradictory policies and laws that cross federal, state, and county boundaries; and the camouflaged oil and gas equipment.

Geospatial maps often view resources linearly, as single points upon the Earth’s surface, rather than a broader landscape. Yet we know that hydraulic fracturing, and other extractive processes, encompass far more. Facilitating a dialogue between diverse perspectives, this exhibition brings forth a visible aspect to elements (physical, technological, and human) that interact to create an altered landscape.