Extracting Us moving online

The Extracting Us Exhibition is remembered with a special postcard printed by Yuyun Ismawati, an Indonesian scholar-activist who visited the gallery and attended the reading group (Photo: Siti Maimunah)
The Extracting Us Exhibition is remembered with a special postcard printed by Yuyun Ismawati, an Indonesian scholar-activist who visited the gallery and attended the reading group (Photo: Siti Maimunah)
The Extracting Us Exhibition is remembered with a special postcard printed by Yuyun Ismawati, an Indonesian scholar-activist who visited the gallery and attended the reading group (Photo: Siti Maimunah)
The Extracting Us Exhibition is remembered with a special postcard printed by Yuyun Ismawati, an Indonesian scholar-activist who visited the gallery and attended the reading group (Photo: Siti Maimunah)

The Extracting Us online exhibition and conversation brings together contributors to a collective exhibition as part of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20) conference that was to be held in Brighton (UK) from 23-26 June 2020. The conference has now moved online and will take place from 22-25 September 2020.

It responds to the need to continue critical conversations around the political ecologies of extractivism in and beyond the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The online exhibition will include a selection from the 13 contributions originally proposed for the physical exhibition, including researchers/artists/activists working in extractivist contexts around the world including: Indonesia, Ireland, France, UK, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Brazil, Ecuador, Trinidad, Gambia, Zambia and Tajikistan. The artworks are in a variety of media including photography, photo-montage, audiovisual compositions and 3D materials. The change in format means that we are also seeking to include critical responses to the artwork as part of the online space, either from contributors using more embodied or performative practices or from invited contributors among artists networks. 

The online exhibition and conversation will also be accompanied by responses from artists-activists, scholar-activists, communities affected by extractive projects and NGOs  as “in conversation” pieces and three webinars/online panels on methods for engaging with art practices “on the front line”, a conversation around “Pandemics – Care – Extractivism” and a “Weaving threads” session in September to think about next steps.


Through a unifying curatorial approach, the works challenge ‘north-south’ narratives on extractivism, enable the viewer to see and hear perspectives from those most affected, and develop actions of solidarity and resistance across countries and continents (see end of document). The displays will be located throughout the conference space, enabling each project to provide its own visual/aural narrative.

  • Bring together the effects of extractivism on people and the environment, and challenge the viewer to make (sometimes unexpected) connections;
  • Instead of providing detailed explanations of each exhibited item (photograph or material object), think about how they work as a group and provide a short text for a small group. 
  • Think about extractivism in terms of materials from (and of) the earth, as well as in terms of human and non human experiences and energies;
  • Challenge ‘north-south’ narratives on extractivism, listen to perspectives from those most affected, and develop actions of solidarity and resistance across countries and continents (we did this by co-curating the exhibition with an organisation based in Indonesia);
  • Include narratives of resistance where possible/relevant; and thus avoid relying on pathos that might develop an ‘us/them’ feeling;
  • Develop solidarity actions during the exhibition, for instance engaging emotionally and physically with the exhibition material (for instance we developed a series of postcards that people could write and send, choosing from a range of people/actors relevant to the context of coal mining in Indonesia); 
  • Work with quality materials at a professional standard, while also challenging ‘professional’ or ‘distanced’ kinds of aesthetics (for instance we sought to challenge typical modes of documentary photography, by including photos with a more ‘everyday aesthetic’ and that don’t necessarily require complex equipment).

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