The Funambulist has rescued this week an impressive piece of architecture without architects from last year. The monsoon flood of July 2010 left 2,000 casualties in Sindh region, Pakistan, and forced more than 20 million people out from their homes. One-fifth of the country’s total area was under water (the equivalent to the whole size of England). Spiders could not find any other way to survive, but to climb up on trees. The extreme concentration of arachnids at these points turned those trees into completely cocooned structures, with endlessly overlapping spider webs. The fact of being surrounded by a vast area of stagnant waters provided them with more than enough succulent mosquitoes, and thereby reducing the risk of a malaria epidemic; locals reported fewer mosquitoes than it would have been expected after such a disaster. Photographer Russell Watkins captured in these swamped areas webs which were sometimes even stretching from tree to tree. As he witnessed: <It was an extraordinary sight, really quite spooky and surreal. Seemingly endless lakes of mill-pond-calm water, with cotton-candy trees reflected like mirrors. It was both beautiful and disturbing. As we talked to local people, dozens of tiny spiders were dropping out of the trees, onto our heads, over the camera. I think they were white crab spiders, just a few millimeters long, and not harmful – almost imperceptible.>
A lack of sunlight killed most trees, since multiple webs acted as an opaque veil over them. When the waters began to recede, displaced villagers tried to resettle their communities. The scarce amount of remaining trees led nonetheless to a lack of natural sun shelters against scorching temperatures.
Despite the shiver that they might provoke on the viewer at first sight, these images only show an spatial consequence of the much larger extent of an still on-going tragedy.