Landscapes and experiences of extractivism are marked by the timescales and temporalities of global commodity exchange and industrial labour, by lived or learnt histories, and shaped by imagined futures. The future-oriented temporalities of resource speculation, anticipated profits and economic growth often dominate extractive contexts, leading to rapid and slow ruination of landscapes and livelihoods (considered market externalities). The irregular paces of “boom” and “bust” collide with and often foreclose futures of liveable environments or traditional land use practices and relations. Yet, these future-oriented temporalities often ignore that extractivism is part of long histories of colonialism and the domination and marginalisation of peoples and the natural world. These different temporal understandings can foreshadow the continued expansion of commodity frontiers and perpetuation of extractive practices, as well as draw attention to histories of resistance and practices of care. The current politics of extractivism are negotiated in the present, lived through and resisted in multi-dimensional ways by those whose lives, over time, have become variably enmeshed in the nexus of extractivism. In the Extracting Us exhibition, there is perhaps the possibility to understand and articulate ways of relating to the human and more-than-human world and its ecological, geological and cosmic rhythms and timescales, countering the dominant and destructive logics and temporalities of extractivism.
Continue to explore connections with temporalities
Drilling Through the Anthropocene
At Horse Hill (Surrey, UK) and elsewhere, extractive industries are drilling for fossil fuels and other natural resources throughout and despite the proposed Anthropocene epoch. They are also drilling through the sediments and deposits that compose the literal strata of the Anthropocene, which are marked by traces of nuclear fallout, industrial chemicals, plastics, concrete, increased atmospheric CO2 and the fossil record of the sixth mass extinction event.
In these ways, the specific site of oil production at Horse Hill is part of a narrative which is planetary in scale and spans deep geological time both past and future. The commonplace and mundane traces of the industry, such as the oil tankers and equipment entering or leaving the Horse Hill site, are a quite unremarkable occurrence in the Anthropocene. Yet they simultaneously epitomise the extractivist logics and political economies which are disrupting earth systems and foreclosing certain possibilities in which human and other-than-human life can flourish.
Does the grand concept of the Anthropocene, rooted in deep time, allow for a sense of deep responsibility to be cultivated? Who is responsible for the Anthropocene and how can they be held accountable? What kind of resistances, alternatives and reimaginings might it inspire? And can the scales and scope of the Anthropocene resonate with the urgency of the local environmental injustices and global climate injustices already being experienced?
This short video sequence brings together footage taken whilst monitoring site traffic at Horse Hill and shots of outcrops of the fossil-rich and naturally-fractured Portland and Kimmeridge rock types (formed approximately 145 to 155 million years ago). These geological strata are equivalent to those from which UKOG are extracting oil at Horse Hill.
With thanks to Jennie Owen.
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.
While nature can exist with the artificial, the artificial cannot exist without the natural, this knowledge held by all indigenous peoples, since the time when there was the possibility of choosing between forest knowledge and firearms, indigenous people stuck to the discovery of organic secrets and the white man to discovery of technologies that would substitute for the organic. Both, without the other, are delivered to unpredictable time that cannot be controlled. Time is the memory of things, that is not controlled, but is time itself. The relationship between both are registered live and transmitted on the internet, that is an emulation of natural memory. In this time, I, covid-19, you, the seed, the plant, the root, the fruit and the circuit, were put into their roles against their will. The only authenticity in all of this is memory.
Explore Denilson Baniwa’s work
“Ah [sarcastic tone], they say: ‘we’re going to replant, it’s all going to be fine.’ But how long will it take for the tree to grow to the same size it was when they cut it down to build the [Panambi hydroelectric] plant? They don’t talk about that value, they don’t even mention it. That’s how it starts! The animals’ habitat will be affected; how long will it take them to adapt to a new one? But many won’t even make it that far, they’ll stay where they are and die there. There’s all of that to think about! (…) Nature [pause] Will what God has given us be destroyed? ‘To g-e-n-e-r-a-t-e energy!’ [sarcastic tone] But there’s other ways of generating energy. Why don’t they work on those instead? They want everything the easiest, most practical, way for them. They don’t give a thought to the environment or the local population. That’s what I think, you know? That’s it.” February 24 2016.
Camila’s feelings: loss and sorrow
“Object”: her parakeets Location: the Inácio brook (which is located 50 yards from her place and will vanish into the water if the Panambi dam is built)
© Camila Grzeca and Marilene Ribeiro 2016
The title is taken from Shadow’s song with the same title in their 2008 album Ecstasy. The calypso singer Shadow wrote this song about the national attitudes and the speculations that the oil and gas enrichment creates in Trinidad and Tobago.
“In de future, tell me what do you see when I am riding on my big black donkey, and all dem oil wells are empty” (Shadow’s lyric).
This photocollage made of fours images shows two timelines that have exploited corruptly the oil production in the country: the colonial past and the postcolonial present.
Explore Maica Gugolati’s work
In the Sperrins, Dalradian Gold, a Canadian company, is seeking to open one of the largest gold mines in Europe, located in North of Ireland. At the same time, local communities are resisting.
This work explores the clashing ontologies involved in this environmental conflict, working with techniques of mapping used in geological survey maps as a tool used by extractive industries and the State to mark the landscape as a mineral rich, as a dead resource waiting to be exploited. However, the humans and nonhumans who inhabit the extractive zone are not passive victims.
The Owenkillen river weaves its way past the proposed site of the gold mine. Home to rare freshwater pearl mussels, spawning salmon and otters, it’s a Special Area of Conservation. In 2019, local resident and member of Save Our Sperrins, Fidelma O’Kane successfully challenged the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for granting permission for Dalradian to discharge effluent into the river. In this video the nonhuman agency of the river speaks to us through it’s sound and movement, while the 2D map reduces this area to a dead resource to extract from.
Explore V’cenza Cirefice’s work
Mumbai consistently ranks as one of the most vulnerable to climate change (World Bank, 2010; UN-Habitat, 2010). Sea level rise, extreme weather events, destruction of wetland and marine ecosystems as well as haphazard planning contributes to the flood proneness of Mumbai, one of its most significant natural hazards. The city still has a number of fishing villages inhabited by the artisanal Koli fishers who are dependent on the resource commons for their subsistence, food security, and livelihoods.
Explore the TAPESTRY collective’s work
One of the agendas is that of the indigenous movement, whose main objective is the struggle for the guarantee of rights historically usurped by the State, in which the struggle for territory is the main demand. In addition to the current scenario in which the world is living due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, in Brazil, indigenous peoples are experiencing drama guided by the Government’s policies to exterminate nature and the traditional peoples that inhabit it. Faced with all this, indigenous peoples once again face the struggle against an outstanding genocide, where they kill bodies, wisdom, humans, non-humans, nature and culture in the name of a (capitalist) system that is increasingly doomed to fail. And once again, indigenous peoples are increasingly showing themselves as being beyond just the past, but also the present and especially the future of this planet.
Explore Edgar Kanaykõ Xakriabá’s work