April 29–September 5, 2022

TERRA exhibition ID

Fernando Casasempere (b. 1958) moved to London from Santiago in 1997 with 12 tons of earth from his native Chile. He uses the earth as his medium as well his subject to explore ideas of landscape, architecture, and history with a foreboding sense of environmental collapse.

Using clay colored by industrial waste produced by copper mining and drilling processes, Casasempere creates vibrant colors that vein through his sculptures. His continual exploration and understanding of his media has achieved unprecedented results, combining clays that historically have not been able to be fired together, creating stable structures that appear to be teetering on the edge of destruction, and extracting color from sources such as relaves, the waste products from Chilean copper mines.

This exhibition comprises four immersive installations that provide a reflective experience inviting the public to consider humanity’s interactions with our planet. First presented in Madrid at the Casa de América in 2019, this is the artist’s first solo exhibition in the United States.

The four installations of the exhibition include

  • Reframing Our Relationship with the Earth features a mound of earth with thousands of individually hand-pressed clay components resembling bone fragments that speak to humans’ impact on the planet.
  • Earth Book/The Sphere of Things to Come presents a series of clay books and a spherical structure representing the earth, together making up a physical archive of what may be lost if no change is made.
  • Salares features hanging landscape formations made of clay that pay homage to the salt flats of the Chilean Atacama Desert, as well as enlarged mortar bowls that speak of itinerant diasporas, representing civilizations forced to flee from natural disasters caused by the changing climate.
  • Reminiscences presents ceramic constructions representing fragments of archaeological ruins, gesturing to the threat of cultural loss due to humans’ extractive relationship with the Earth.


A TERRA educational space offers multiple interactive opportunities to pause and reflect upon the exhibition.

  • Written prompts on the walls invite visitors to reflect on the urgency of the environmental crisis, and encourage the sharing of the ideas and reflections that TERRA may stir by writing a response and adding it to the community response wall. Here, guests can also read and reflect upon the responses of others.
  • A reading area offers opportunities for visitors to further explore Casasempere’s practice and peruse through several books related to contemporary art and the environment.
  • A brief film highlights the return of Fernando’s Out of Sync installation to Chile’s Atacama Desert.
  • Experimental ceramic samples are also available for visitors to touch and feel the texture created by Casasempere’s unique clay blends.

Visitors are also invited to participate in the community earth clay bead making for this interactive space. Free bead making kits containing clay, tools, instructions, and a link to Casasempere’s video tutorial for creating a variety of beads and forms are available at The Museum Store while supplies last. Quantities are limited. Dry beads can be returned to The Museum Store for inclusion in this community project.


Casasempere’s expansive environmental installations have been created for spaces from The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, London (2012); to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Santiago (2016); and the Chilean Atacama Desert (2015). Casasempere’s work is in public collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Harvard University Art Museum; Boijmans Museum, Rotterdam; Contemporary Art Museum, Osaka; Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris; and MIC, Faenza.


Fernando Casasempere, Diaspora, Salares (works on wall), 2019. Clay and China ink on felt. Fernando Casasempere, Diaspora, Mortars (works on floor), 2018. Black stoneware and different minerals. Photograph from TERRA at The San Diego Museum of Art. Lent by the artist.