Texas has been in the throes of an extreme drought since 2011. Just how bad has it been? According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, over 300 million trees in the state have fallen victim to the dry conditions since the drought started. And if some Texas climatologists are right, this could be the new normal for the Lone Star State.
That stark reality is the inspiration for THIRST, a new art installation hovering above Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. Just like the ghost bikes that mark the locations of cyclist deaths in cities around the world, THIRST presents a ghostly 11-metre cedar elm painted white, which "memorializes the loss of 300 million trees that died in the recent Texas drought."
The installation is presented by Women and Their Work, an arts organization based in Austin, and is a collaboration between artists and architects. Surrounding the tree itself are 14,000 prayer flags bearing the silk-screened silhouette of the dead tree, which form a four-kilometre meditative trail.
“The team and I quickly realized that the simple act of watering a tree wouldn’t undo or prevent a drought," Norma Yancey, one of the artists, said in a press release. "We needed a revolution of thought." The artists hope that the work will provoke conversation about the increasing scarcity of water in and around Austin.
THIRST runs until December 16.