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Splash and Burn: An In Depth Interview with Ernest Zacharevic
Ernest Zacharevic is a Lithuanian born multidisciplinary artist who combines fine art techniques with a passion for creating art outdoors, often incorporating the existing landscape and architectural aesthetics into the finished piece. Experimentation lies at the heart of Ernest's style, with the only constant being the dedication to his ever-changing ideas. With his edgy concepts, he pushes the boundaries of artistic execution and works freely with oil, stencil, sprays, and sculpture. Ernest's primary interest is in the relationship between art and the urban landscape, with concepts often evolving as part of a spontaneous response to the immediate environment, the community and culture. He currently resides in Penang, Malaysia.
Splash and Burn is an awareness campaign responding creatively to unregulated farming practices of Palm Oil in Indonesia. Tackling issues such as the transboundary haze, Deforestation, Human and Animal displacement; murals/sculptures and interventions have been appearing throughout cities and the vast natural landscape of Sumatra. Since it's launch a few weeks ago, the campaign garnered attention from publications worldwide and even prompted an acknowledgement by Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio. With a bit of time, Ernest was able to have a quick chat with me and elaborate more on the issue that he has been so passionate about.
• When did this project start?
Its been in my head for several years now and really since I discovered the burning season in 2015. In 2016, I actively started researching the issues and the severe environmental effect it was having. Since then, we have been researching, gathering ideas and identifying local and international partners artists and NGOs to determine the direction of the project and we executed it in early 2017.
• How does the subject hold special meaning to you as opposed to other issues in and around the world. Specifically, why Palm Oil? Is it because of the region where you call home now?
It's an issue which I feel is more disconnected from the western media world. I wanted to generate awareness on the impacts of consuming Palm Oil. The consequences of global consumption are major issue which this project seeks to address.
• What do you hope to accomplish in addition to raising awareness?
Inspire a wider consciousness on the volume we consume, what kind of products these are and where they come from. It’s important for us to be aware of the consequence of our actions in taking an interest in how our food and commodities are sourced. I also wanted to encourage other creatives in being more proactive about the causes that inspire or affect them. Seeking out opportunities, and to work in cities with communities where we can share information creatively, which affects us all.
• Are you hoping to cultivate a change in the Palm Oil industry practice or just ban it altogether?
I wanted to advocate the cause to encourage activity towards a more sustainable practice and to help people understand the issues and effects of the Slash and Burn technique. Hopefully this awareness through street art will help to inspire the next generation of farmers or environmentalists or just communities in working together. The current system is failing the environment and cannot be sustainable long term. There are organisations both locally and globally which work proactively towards this kind of education.
• Who are you working with aside from the artists on this issue?
Local and International NGO’s have been providing us with information and logistical support London based SOS (Sumatran Orangutan Society) and Indonesian based initiative OIC (Orangutan information centre) we also have incredible help from friends in Penang and members of the Medan community.
• Aside from the publicity now, what do you see in the future for this project? Some groups offer annual festivals or events to raise awareness or continue the awareness. Will Splash and Burn be a singular one off event?
It has not been an event as such - it was a series of unique projects and every project had its own direction and angle which all came together. We aim to continue this practice but it won't be 'annually' it will hopefully be ongoing, to ensure the awareness of the issue stays a current topic. We are also working on a documentary film, other art projects, and perhaps an international display.
• Anything you want to add, an artist statement, or project statement?
Splash and Burn is an awareness campaign responding creatively to unregulated farming practices of Palm Oil in Indonesia. Tackling issues such as the transboundary haze, Deforestation, Human and Animal displacement; murals/sculptures and interventions have been appearing throughout cities and the vast natural landscape of Sumatra. The Campaign is collaborating with a number of local and international NGOs including London based charity SOS and Indonesian Based NGO OIC. The project is initiated by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic, who throughout the last two years has been actively researching the issue, visiting and scouting locations and connecting with experts and specialists in the field
The project was funded by the release of 'Splash and Burn’, a limited edition print which sold generating the full independent funding. Since February, international artists have been generously donating their time and creativity to the cause, arriving in secret to execute works.
Conflict Palm Oil is a longstanding controversial issue that receives much media attention in peak moments of crisis, but very little in the months between the burning seasons. With global consumption increasing beyond the need to conserve our impact on our environment and communities, Ernest aims to introduce a new perspective to the conversation on Palm Oil. Using art as a tool, he suggests bridging the gap between the corruption surrounding the industry and the wider consciousness of the global consumer. Through a number of unique art projects Splash and Burn offers a creative platform for Organisations and NGOs fighting for positive change
Splash and Burn is an ongoing independent initiative curated by Ernest Zacharevic and coordinated by Charlotte Pyatt. To support the activity- visit the page https://www.orangutans-sos.org/take-action/campaigns/splash-and-burn/ or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
(USA) Mark Jenkins @glazedparadise
(USA) Axel Void @axelvoid
(Italy) Pixel Pancho @pixelpancho
(Spain) Isaac Cordal @isaaccordal
(Norway) Strøk @andersgjennestad
(UK) Gabriel Pitcher @Gabrielpitcher
(Lithuania)Ernest Zacharevic @Ernestzacharevic
(Malaysin) Bibichun Instagram @cipan
Contributing works from
Smane 2 | Combat | L.E.O