The surreal Salton Sea, with it’s surface of a thousand square kilometres, is situated in one of the hottest and driest places in Southern California. It was settled as an agricultural area in the early twentieth century. The sea as we know it today, was accidentally created in 1905 when heavy rainfall created flooding from the Colorado river. This caused an irrigation canal to break through and supplied the dried out basin, the Salton Sink, with water inflow for two years.
As the farming industry expanded in the valley, more and more water, mainly agricultural runoff, flew into the basin. Since the 1920’s it has been designated an agricultural sump. Even though being hyper saline and growing saltier all the time, the sea became a habitat for numerous fish and bird species. By the 1960’s the Salton Sea had become a vibrant recreational area, attracting many celebrities like Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys and Jerry Lee Lewis.
But after numerous catastrophes, such as millions of fish dying on the shores of the sea on a daily basis and the flooding of the nearby beach resorts in the 1990s, causing people to leave, the Valley lies practically forgotten. California’s ongoing drought, as well as the reduction of water inflow, due to changes in water apportionments agreed upon for the Colorado River, is causing the sea to dry out. The water levels are receding and exposing toxic dust that is dangerous to the inhabitants of the Salton Sea and to the entire population of Southern California.
Melanie Planchard and Martine Pinnel have been coming to the Salton Sea for seven years, know it intimately and understand its charms and difficulties. The idea of documenting it in the form of an exhibition, was born two years ago when they saw that the shoreline was decreasing drastically and became aware of the health problems people were enduring in the area. After recently receiving the stART-up fund by the “Oeuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte” they spent five weeks living at the Salton Sea in Spring 2018, producing a short film and series of photographs. Intimate portraits will allow the viewer to get a glimpse of the lives of the people living around the Sea and their way of facing an uncertain future. The exhibition will display the body of work that documents the visual reality of the Salton Sea’s modern history.
The opening of the exhibition “Sea Dream Avenue” will take place at the Kuturfabrik in Esch on the 18th of October 2018 and will last until the 3rd of November, the exhibition will also be presented at the 4th Bombay Beach Biennale in March 2019, and at the Kulturhaus Niederanven in June 2019.