Belanger follows the North American Plate from the eastern boundary in Iceland and the western boundary in California, along the North Atlantic Rift where it meets the Eurasian Plate, to the San Andreas Fault Line where it is buttressed against the Pacific Plate. The volatility of the earth is felt in Belanger’s images from Iceland: As two tectonic plates pull away from one another, the blackened volcanic earth of this alien topography billows with geothermal gas. Belanger’s images show the rift in relation to human settlement: pipes carry steam for electricity, black mud bubbles in a geothermal pool in the desert of Hverir/Namaskard, and homes line a ridge made by the fault line between the plates. Whilst this movement of plates in Iceland is seen as protean but not benign by those who visit and live around it, the fault line in California is characterized as far more dangerous. The site of multiple earthquakes, its presence still seemingly ignored by town planners and builders. In Lippard’s accompanying text, she writes: “Iceland, with its geothermal energy, hydroelectric, and wind farms (less than 0.1% of its power comes from fossil fuels) is a model for the rest of the world, especially as California burns. But it’s a trade-off. Unlike climate change and so many other vital ecological issues, there is nothing we can do about the great beast stirring restlessly beneath our feet, beneath our lives. It is what it is.” Belanger illustrates just this, Rift/Fault capturing the way that this seismic energy has ruptured and cracked the earth irrespective of those who have decided to settle upon it.
"There is nothing we can do about the great beast stirring restlessly beneath our feet, beneath our lives. It is what it is.”