Wahala by Robin Hinsch illuminates the devastating human and environmental toll of our relentless fossil fuel consumption, tracing its roots in colonial oppression.
In a stark revelation of the ongoing ecological crisis, Robin Hinsch's project Wahala, unflinchingly exposes the profound human and environmental cost of our insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. Taking inspiration from the Yoruba term 'Wahala', signifying trouble or distress, Hinsch's work is a striking study of a planet groaning under the strain of ceaseless extraction and consumption.
Paying homage to places beset by the twin spectres of environmental collapse and colonial legacy, such as India and Nigeria, Hinsch's work traverses geographical boundaries. His focus on these particular locales isn't merely due to the environmental devastation unfolding therein but is also a conscious nod to their shared colonial pasts. This approach serves as an uncomfortable reminder of how contemporary resource extraction is an unabated extension of colonial subjugation.
Hinsch’s imagery is both gripping and confronting. Consider his tableau from a village on the brink of submersion in Dhanbad, India. This chilling visual narrative – featuring a lone structure perched precariously by the precipice of an anthropogenic cliff, engulfed in an eerie glow of flames – is redolent of apocalyptic cinema. This visual prowess echoes the poignancy and transience of Romantic and Baroque ruin paintings by masters such as Claude Lorrain, Nicolas Poussin, and William Turner. However, Hinsch's works diverge from their narrative of sublime decay. Instead, his images pose a critical indictment of the neoliberal ethos of unrestricted economic growth and the resultant decay of civilization.
Despite the staggering potency of his images, Hinsch is acutely aware of the inherent limitations of his medium. He underlines photography's inherently "fragmentary gaze", its inevitable incompleteness, and harnesses these apparent drawbacks as a powerful conduit to provoke thought and spur action. Through the unsettling yet sublime lens of Wahala, Hinsch calls upon us all to confront the stark reality of a world suffering under the weight of our fossil-fueled frenzy.