Slow Violence
Slow Violence
Coal-fired power plant Tušimice
Slow Violence
Coal-fired power plant Tušimice

A future history of a landscape that serves the energy industry

The bowels of the Tušimice power plant exceed the size of cathedrals. Tons of coal flow in incessantly, feeding huge furnaces. They arrive here on a conveyor from a nearby open-pit mine, where mining machines bite into the coal mass. The power station is one of the ten largest in the country and together these colossi produce half of the country’s electricity by burning coal.

The belief in a fossil future turns into reality here, leaving little room for other ways of generating life-giving electricity. A network of such plants forms the energy heart of the country, injecting energy into the arteries that bring heat and electricity to the whole society. The contribution to the climate crisis is undeniable, as is the devastating effect on the landscape, turning it into a barren periphery.

That’s also why these giant power plants try to paint their walls green and give the impression of a modern operation with an irreplaceable role in our future. The one in Tušimice uses its waste heat to heat up greenhouses arranged in long rows next to the cooling towers. The produced tomatoes are then supplied to nursing homes and other similar institutions in the area.

A large corporate data centre has also been erected here, its modern architecture contrasting with dismal dormitories for foreign workers and a pair of smaller prefab houses where widows of former power plant workers live alongside socially excluded families. The sign on a long-closed shop is no longer readable and no buses stop here. On the periphery, not only the raw material being excavated but also human life has turned into a waste heap.

The landscape of the future takes on the appearance of a mined site waiting to be provided with a new meaning. Smoke billows from chimneys, the consequences of which increasingly challenge us to decide how to transform the energy cycle in the arteries and veins that connect our homes, factories and other vital spaces. It’s hard to imagine that the ominous rumble produced by these power cathedrals will ever go silent. And yet it will happen one day.

Sound archive

Tušimice: Overwhelming sound of the climate crisis

A look at the landscape that surrounds and feeds the coal plant reveals the violent effects of mining on the environment. At the top of a nearby hill, one can hear the mining sounds only in the distance as they are drowned out by the birds and insects. But a very different soundscape extends inside the plant itself, where the deafening roar of turbines fills the spacious main hall. By means of a contact microphone, a geophone and an electromagnetic receiver, Sara was able to capture the different facets of electricity production as the main nutrient of modern society. The sound of the cooling tower, reminiscent of a massive waterfall, brings a reminder of the immense flows of energy and labor that will need to be replaced by options more friendly to the environment, the landscape and people and other living creatures in the ongoing climate crisis.

Field notes