Continental Drift through the Pampa: From Geopolitics to Geopoetics

by Brian Holmes 

Lecture/slideshow at Rainbow Bookstore

Thursday, Nov. 15 at 5 PM  

426 W. Gilman Street, Madison 

Free and open to the public

“Continental Drift through the Pampa” is an encounter with Argentine artists, poets and activists ― but also a voyage to the toxic empire of genetically modified soy production. Halfway between critical research and artistic experiment, this project is a collaboration between the artists’ group El Levante, from Argentina, and the essayist Brian Holmes and the photographer Claire Pentecost, from the USA. Together we traveled from the great grain-exporting port of Rosario, on the Rio Paraná, to the industrial port of Bahía Blanca, south of Buenos Aires. Our aim was to investigate the social transformation of the country since the 2001 insurrection, with a particular focus on the rise of hi-tech agriculture. Paradoxically, the surging prices of transgenic soy are what has allowed the current leftist government to set a new direction and attempt a more egalitarian form of development.

The story of this journey is included in the freshly published book Deep Routes: The Midwest in All Directions. The connection is very simple. In South America, the grain-exporting city of Rosario is known as “the Chicago of Argentina.” So we told everyone that we were from Chicago, “the Rosario of the United States.” Why should globalization run in only one direction? Continental Drift puts poetics into politics, exploring the multiple scales of coexistence.

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