The pieces presented in the exhibition and conversation tell diverse stories relating to methodological approaches to creating art ‘on the front lines’. The works emerge from different subjective experiences of forming relationships and learning with communities most affected by extractivism, who experience the violence of landscapes altered by extractive human-nature relations, and/or are exposed to the materials and artefacts of extractive industries. Artistic engagements can be a way of engaging with and participating in acts of resistance among frontline communities to document, visibilise, empower and amplify their perspectives. The work can also offer ways of exploring the complexities and contradictions of extractivist contexts, or creating ways to imagine and prefigure alternative narratives, economies and relations to those imposed by extractivism.
Continue to explore connections across modes of engagement
Dead Water is is focused on telling the story of dams and hydropower from the perspectives of the people who have been affected by these ventures in Brazil stitched together with my own background as a trained photographer, ecologist, and individual. It engages with the nature and magnitude of the intangible costs of hydro.
The work deals with the lives of families (riverside dwellers) who have been affected by the building of dams for hydropower purposes in three different regions of Brazil. It is driven by portraits that are co-created by each participant of the project and myself, based on what each sitter stresses as remarkable to her/him concerning the situation they have faced as a consequence of the hydropower plant project. During the photo shoot, participants were invited to check and modify their own portrait until they considered the image they saw tallied with the discourse they wanted to present to the viewers. Moreover, by gathering further information with participants, sentimental landscapes of their loss were reconstructed.
Using photovoice by local Koli youths as a methodology, the exhibition brings forth a microcosm of the conflicts, threats and opportunities due to infrastructure and urban growth, habitat loss, demographic transition and climate change through pictures and narratives.
Two of the largest infrastructure projects in Maharashtra state and India – The biggest container port in India – Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, and an international airport have pushed the original koli population to the margins. Wetlands and mangrove destruction have destroyed fisheries habitats. Both projects, have had ecologically destructive effects by closing of feeder channels and culverts affecting inter-tidal flows. The government has also restricted fishing permits in water bodies in the vicinity severely affecting mangrove population and fish biodiversity.
Explore the TAPESTRY Collective’s work
Through experimenting, making and organising workshops with this clay, potter Xanthe Maggs and I have been exploring how this Anthropocene earth can be part of campaigning and part of building a community of resistance. We are also inquiring into how interacting with the clay and making together can be part of personal and shared journeys of our activism as we continually learn new ways of relating to the natural world and to each other.
Photos clockwise from top left:
Mark-making with found materials. Photo by Xanthe Maggs.
A clay crayon before firing, to be used by activists for writing or drawing in public spaces. Design and photo by Xanthe Maggs.
Processing clay by removing organic matter to make it suitable for firing. Photo by Alice Owen.
Sculpting clay at a workshop with the campaign community. Design by Collette Barber. Photo by Xanthe Maggs and Alice Owen.
Finding clay deposits near the Horse Hill site. Photo by Xanthe Maggs.
Explore Alice Owen’s work
This work, The Natural Time of Ephemeral Things, arises through the emotional experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many plans had to be unmade and many ideas no longer made sense, a response of the nature of things to humans in the fragility of their control over time. The work, as my very existence, is an attempt to connect two worlds, the natural and the artificial. The organic world with two electronic circuits and each feeding the other, exist while there is life in the other. When organic matter is devoured by fungi the circuit stops working, when the circuit is devoured by rust the organic matter stops having a role in this relationship.
Explore Denilson Baniwa’s work
Komor: Journeys through the Tajik underground
Directors: Negar Elodie Behzadi and Hattie Brooks Ward
Kante, Tajikistan (2014-15). Produced in London, 2018-9 (12 min).
This ethnographic documentary delves into the everyday, embodied, emotional, intergenerational and gendered struggles that have emerged with the transformation of the Tajik extractive landscape of Kante, at the margins of the post-Soviet space.
Drawing on 8 months of ethnographic research by the geographer Negar Elodie Behzadi carried out in 2014-15, this film first makes visible men, women and children miners’ stories of extractive violence in a context of economic desolation and politico-ecological transformation. It also highlights the role and place of the ethnographer in this process, making explicit how ethnographic knowledge is produced through a personal, emotional, and corporeal encounter.
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Withering Refuge is a film-essay that problematises the plight of different populations living in Zambia’s Meheba Refugee Settlement and in its mining surroundings. The piece explores the way in which the spaces of refuge are dramatically withering. Extracting and processing ore while extracting and processing humans and non-humans alike is not a simple metaphor.
Explore Pedro Figueiredo Neto’s work
Throughout my life’s trajectory, I have been developing this work with images, through Ethnophotography: “a means of registering aspects of culture – the life of a people.” Making photography a new “tool” of struggle, enabling the “other” to see with another view, what an indigenous people is. Therefore, I use photography as a means, also, of describing aspects of our (indigenous) cultures with a proper look from those who experience such realities. As I am part of the Xakriabá people, for example, I have the possibility of capturing things which previously would not have been possible for those who are not members of the group. Ethnophotography makes possible relations with the people and that influences directly and indirectly in the processes of image capture, in which it is beyond what the eye (photographic) can see.
Explore Edgar Kanaykõ Xakriabá’s work