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HAVINI, Taloi; Habitat

The Panguna mine, formerly Bougainville Copper Limited and operational from 1972 to 1989, is a reoccurring subject in Taloi Havini’s artworks. In Habitat, the artist uses a range of perspectives to create different associations with the land in and around the mine. Distanced and sweeping overhead shots, evoking the view from a military helicopter or a prospecting plane, follow the river to the disused mine, overgrown with plants. Close-ups show a man walking through a dense rainforest and a woman preparing the land for planting crops, their confident movements suggesting they have a strong connection to the land.

The Panguna mine required the relocation of villages, brought an influx of itinerant workers, and devastated the environment. Local landowners received a pittance of the mine’s profits, and a decade-long civil war about these royalties officially ended with the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement. As part of the agreement, planning is now underway for a referendum on independence, which has revived discussions about reopening the mine. Habitat captures this complicated situation succinctly with the imposing sound of helicopters overhead and the mineral maps superimposed over the electric blue run-off from the mine.