As energy hungry nations search for fossil-fuel alternatives, some look to lithium as a source for electricity. Bolivia’s salt desert, Salar de Uyuni, is 100 times the size of the famed Bonnevile Salt Flats of Utah and is estimated to hold as much as half of the world’s supply of lithium. This has led some to refer to lithium as the “New Oil,” and subsequently Bolivia, the “New Saudi Arabia.” However, many environmental groups believe lithium extraction is an unsustainable process that will produce irreparable damage to the environment and the Bolivian landscape. As Barbuzza’s years of research will show, this story of landscape and salt is layered in both history and power.
Isabel Barbuzza is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the School of Art and Art History at the University of Iowa. In addition, she directs the sculpture program in the Dimensional Practice Area. Barbuzza’s work has been exhibited internationally. Her works can be seen in private and public collections around the world. Barbuzza holds a BA and MFA from the University of California at Santa Barbara and her research involves narratives integrating social, geographical and ecological history across Latin America.