Despite Extractivism

The Despite Extractivism exhibition is a gathering of works which share expressions of care, creativity and community from diverse extractive contexts. Collectively, these works question and subvert the logics of extractivism by bringing into focus alternative and caring ways of relating to the natural world and to each other. 


Despite Extractivism is an invitation to explore questions around extractivism and its logics. How do communities and creatives (struggle to) cultivate the persistent traditional ways of caring for nature and for each other despite extractivism? Can sites of extraction be a fertile ground for alternatives?  Can artistic interventions help foster new sensibilities and solidarities with distanced extractive contexts? 


This exhibition is part of an ongoing journey to explore the diverse, uneven but sometimes connected ways in which resource extraction also extracts from communities. Despite Extractivism builds on the previous exhibitions of the Extracting Us collective, working at the intersection of academia, activism and the arts. Amongst many moments of discovery, our past exhibitions brought to light how the logics of extractivism include a way of seeing the world as a resource which can be dominated and accumulated, and how those resisting extractivism often have fundamentally different ways of seeing, being in and caring for the world. 

As the inter-related crises of climate change, ecological collapse and the pandemic continue to unfold, world leaders are meeting to deliberate at the COP26 climate talks, this exhibition hopes to carve out a space of solidarity, connection and active hope between communities. The exhibition contributions include ways for you to find out more about the communities with whom we engage, and ways of supporting them (LINK). With the connections feature (LINK) we invite you to explore and share the connections (or contradictions) between selected works. 


The exhibition is co-curated by researchers associated with the Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics at the University of Brighton, the WEGO_ITN research network for Feminist Political Ecology,  and ONCA gallery in Brighton (UK).

Curatorial Principles

As with the Extracting Us exhibition, we invited the contributors to Despite Extractivism to consider how their work can follow these guiding principles: 

• The online exhibition brings together artistic and creative contributions that explore everyday community experiences of and  responses to extractivism, and engage in ongoing conversations around extractivism, communities and care, in its various forms and registers.


• It includes three core aims:

• to challenge ‘north-south’ and ‘producer-consumer’ narratives on extractivism

• to listen to perspectives from those most affected, and develop actions of solidarity and resistance across countries and continents

• to challenge the viewer to make (sometimes unexpected) connections and develop solidarity (e.g, inviting the viewer to take specific actions or connect with the community).

The exhibition thinks about extractivism and care in terms of materials from (and of) the earth, and considers the experiences of humans and the rest of the natural world.

The exhibition will include narratives of resistance where possible/relevant; and avoid relying on pathos that might develop an ‘us/them’ feeling.

The exhibition will work with quality materials while also challenging ‘professional’ or ‘distanced’ kinds of aesthetics.

Online, the exhibition will keep written text to a minimum: instead of providing detailed explanations of each exhibited item (e.g. each image), we consider how they work as a group and provide a short text for a small group. 


Curatorial Collective

The exhibition is part of an ongoing journey to understand how extractivism impacts communities, and how these impacts are connected but unevenly distributed and not necessarily similar across geographical and cultural contexts. These ‘Extracting Us’  exhibitions have been co-curated with the ONCA gallery in Brighton (UK),  and researchers Siti Maimunah, Rebecca Elmhirst, Elona Hoover, Dian Ekowati and Alice Owen who are associated with the University of Brighton and the WEGO research network. The Despite Extractivism website has been designed with curator Cellina Loh. 

The WEGO network …:

  • Feminist political ecology
  • How does this invite us to ‘look differently’? 
  • How does this inform our curatorial principles? 

The WEGO network aims to build a grounded understanding of ‘Feminist Political Ecology’ as a research field and practice, paying particular attention to everyday practices of social difference, environmental change and political economies cross scales.  This approach can be thought of as a lens or way of noticing particular kinds of expressions of power. This invites  us to look differently at ‘extractivism’, asking how it is experienced and resisted by communities in everyday ways which are often overlooked. We also pay attention to how extractivism, as an expression and relation of power, operates  through and reinforces the intersecting structures of coloniality, race, class, gender, age, and ability. 


Informed by our research, we have tried to curate exhibitions in a way which resists extractive logics and which cultivates community and co-operation.


WEGO-ITN (Wellbeing, Ecology, Gender and cOmmuny International Training Network) is an EU-funded research network  contributing to the political ecology, feminist studies, human geography, anthropology, and development studies’ understanding of extractivism, commoning, care, communities, livelihoods, embodied subjectivities and resistance to development. 

WEGO-ITN is made up of scholar-activists working on feminist political ecology from ten institutions in six European Union countries: Germany, Italy,  Norway, Spain, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom and ten institutions from eight countries for training and secondments: Australia, India, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Uruguay and USA.

ONCA logo

ONCA is a Brighton based arts charity that bridges social and environmental justice issues with creativity. ONCA promotes positive change by facilitating inclusive spaces for creative learning, artist support, story-sharing and community solidarity. ONCA Gallery works with artists, educators and organisations to co-deliver exhibitions, events and workshops that explore social and environmental issues.

SECP logo

The Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics  (SECP), based at the University of Brighton, undertakes interdisciplinary research to address global and planetary challenges such as climate change, human migration, social inequalities and resource access or depletion. SECP explores  the environmental, spatial and cultural dimensions of ecological and social challenges in specific places, to offer new knowledge and practice for the creation of more sustainable and socially just societies.

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