Hugo Israel and his art performance against tourist saturation. | Joan Torres

6

A Portuguese artist, Hugo Israel, yesterday staged an art performance on the beach of Es Molinar in Palma to draw attention to the threats to the Balearics from an imbalance between the current tourism boom and economic and ecological sustainability.

The "saturation" of tourists was marked metaphorically by the apparently inoffensive beach towels brought by tourists, symbolic of the apparent choking of the delicate ecosystems of the islands. The performance was designed to call for greater regulation and control of tourism in order to protect natural resources and ecosystems and to arrive at a sustainable solution for both residents and tourists to be able to continue to enjoy the natural beauty of the Balearics.

Israel, in researching his subject and inspiring the creative process, took a job as a kitchen helper. Through this, he was able, it is said, to experience at first hand the human consequences of what are described as "savage exploitation" from tourism in the Balearics. This exploitation, he suggests, includes working more than 12 hours a day, salaries beyond any legal control and precarious working conditions.

The artist believes that sustainable tourism is possible and absolutely necessary to protect the Balearics. In his view, if "tourist exploitation" continues at its current pace, it will eventually destroy the islands' landscapes and ecosystems.