2016 - Ongoing
South America and Asia are becoming increasingly connected. Not only politically, but also through the lightest of the minerals, lithium. The market for lithium carbonate is booming, lithium being one of the main constituents of all battery powered electronic gadgets, electric cars, solar panels, robotics, etc. Bolivia has the largest confirmed lithium reserves in the world. China, on the other hand, is a leading global producer as well as a rapidly growing market for the lithium-battery driven products and e-mobility. But the world will soon be short of its supply, which in turn can cause serious geo-strategic consequences.
The photographic project follows the path from the mining of this raw material at Salar de Uyuni high up in the Bolivian Andes, to the manufacturing of the final products (e.g. e-vehicles and lithium ion batteries) around China. Images will try to disclose the future which is already unravelling in front of our eyes. The story is as timely as ever, as the demand for lithium-ion batteries is ever-increasing and the supply is not fast enough to accommodate the demand. Signs of the bottleneck effect are already manifesting, with Chinese, Australian and American corporations buying lithium mines in various countries around the world to ensure the reserves for the future.
As the need for effective climate protection strategies gets stronger, the development of cleaner energy is gaining its momentum. Lithium plays a major role in this story, bringing us to the doorstep of a true green (r)evolution, a necessary transition from dirty inefficient fossil fuel vehicles to clean, environmental friendly, electric vehicles with little or no effect on the climate. With raising awareness about these issues, this story could contribute to positive public and political support, which is opposed by the powerful fossil fuel lobbies.
The aim of this project is to document the entire chain from the mining of lithium, the production of batteries and battery driven devices, green energy power plants that will power these devices up to the use of the final products around the world. In 2018, the plan would be to start in Australia, which is the largest producer (and consequently largest polluter) of lithium carbonate in the world, continuing with work in the heart of Europe, where Serbia holds the biggest reserve of Lithium in the region and finally extending the story to Norway, a country that is taking a large step toward e-mobility and which has become the major per-capita user of electric vehicles.
Connecting a series of photographic essays about lithium mining, green power plant, production of electric vehicles, and their consumption, the whole story could be distributed on multiple levels. I will continue to publish the story in various media outlets (e.g. Le Figaro Magazine, Spiegel Online, Aftenposten Innsikt, Vrij, MO* Magazine, Sunday Herald, Terra Mater, Forbes Magazine, Caravan Magazine, Delo) where the first part of the story was already published. Multimedia screenings and photo exhibitions will be shown in various galleries and at festivals such as Kaunas, FotoDok, Visa pour l’image, DiaFest, FotoKlub Maribor, HeadOn.
The following partnerships have already been established:
- Le Figaro (Mr. Cyril Drouhet) which is already supporting my work and Gacilly photo festival where my work will be exhibited in June 2018.
- LensCulture (Mr. Alexander Strecker) with whom we are currently preparing a video interview about the whole project.
- I am also in the process of discussing the publication of a printed book with Keher Verlag, who has shown interest in the idea of producing the first photo book about lithium.