Artist Ernest Zacharevic carves giant SOS into Sumatran Landscape.

A giant SOS distress call has been carved into the landscape of an oil palm plantation in
Sumatra by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic, calling attention to the ongoing destruction of
Indonesia’s forests and the demise of iconic species such as the Sumatran orangutan.

Photo by All Is Amazing ( Artist Ernest Zacharevic carves giant SOS into Sumatran Landscape. FAD Magazine
Photo by All Is Amazing Artist Ernest Zacharevic carves giant SOS into Sumatran Landscape.

In early 2017 Ernest Zacharevic curated a series of unique art projects in and around Sumatra as part of an art initiative run with SOS called Splash and Burn, which sought to use the presence of art in critical areas to give rise to a wider conversation on issues affecting community, consumerism, climate change and the ever dwindling wildlife population.

For their latest intervention, #SplashandBurn challenged the idea of ‘Art’ as an abstract gesture by physically altering and shaping the Sumatran landscape. The canvas for Zacharevic’s latest intervention was an oil palm plantation, land almost totally devoid of wildlife, directly next to the Leuser Ecosystem – the only place in the world where orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos coexist. In order to restore the land for wildlife, the charity first needed to remove the oil palm trees. Seizing the opportunity to send a dramatic message, armed with ribbons, a drone and a chainsaw wielding crew, Zacharevic and his team worked across approximately 20 hectares, carving a giant distress call into the landscape of the plantation, by selectively removing oil palms to spell out the letters SOS.

Splash and Burn Artist and Curator, Ernest Zacharevic?:

“The nature of my work is very
spontaneous and site-specific. I often prioritize the relationship of the artwork to its surrounding
environment and community, over the aesthetic pleasure of viewing the art. The Land Art movement of the 60s and 70s has always been an inspiration to me. Just like graffiti, the context and location of Land Art is often as meaningful as its content or artistic expression. I have had the ambition of creating a Land Art piece since the beginning of the Splash and Burn campaign. I wanted to communicate the magnitude of the problem to a wider audience as well as provide creative outlook, hope, and inspiration to local communities and conservationists. Through months of collaboration with NGO’s and charitable organizations; Orangutan Information Centre, The Sumatran Orangutan Society and LUSH, the involvement of creatives and with the help of local communities; this idea came to life in Bukit Mas. From the ground, you would not suspect anything more than just another palm oil plantation, the aerial view however reveals an SOS distress signal. ‘Save Our Souls’ is a message communicated to those at a distance, a reminder of the connectedness we share with nature. As more of the forests are lost, we lose a little bit of ourselves in the process”


About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine Founder and co-publisher Art of Conversation and founder of the platform @worldoffad