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WORLD OF MATTER
Exposing Resource Ecologies
Lonnie van Brummelen and Siebren de Haan, still from the film Episode of the Sea, 2013. Courtesy of the artists.

Exposing Resource Ecologies brings together works produced by World of Matter, an international art and media project investigating primary materials (fossil, mineral, agrarian, maritime) and the complex ecologies in which they are embedded. Initiated by an interdisciplinary group of visual practitioners and theorists, World of Matter responds to the urgent need for new forms of representation that shift resource-related debates from a market driven domain to open platforms for engaged public discourse.

Ten collaborators have developed visual projects resulting from long-term investigative fieldwork on the interconnected extractive ecologies at play in particular sites around the world, as well as on their multifaceted impact on human and non-human lives and systems. Videos, interviews, testimonies and narratives, documents, maps and texts are configured as installations in the Gallery space and form a complex interaction of critical documentary analysis and speculation addressing our relationship to (and definitions of) nature.

By placing the results of their research and collaborations within an exhibitionary framework, World of Matter engages with questions of display, aesthetic consideration, artistic experience, and art world reception – all areas that have been an underlying and open-ended object of inquiry for the Gallery. The documentary nature of their work, the volume of information and its manner of presentation require an extensive investment from the visitor. Their work resists standard forms of accelerated artwork consumption, and opens up the field of the visual, of the exhibited, to a reflexive engagement with complex subject matter.

The Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Organized by Krista Lynes and Michèle Thériault

Mabe Bethônico

THE WORKS

Mineral Practices, 2012
Multimedia installation. Video (colour, 15 min. 30 sec.), 44 books, 4 posters, 2 printed handouts (Anselm Jappe and Mabe Bethônico), printed reports.
Courtesy of the artist.

Mineral Practices is an installation-archive focusing on the state of Minas Gerais in south eastern Brazil. It includes books made of images from De Re Metallica, published in 1556 by German scholar and scientist Georgius Agricola, the authoritative text on mining for nearly two centuries following its publication. The author catalogues state-of-the-art procedures for mining, refining, and smelting metals. Representations of sixteenth-century practices are juxtaposed with current images of mining sites in Minas Gerais. The accompanying video presents images from the archives of the Department of Mining and from the Brazilian Ministry of Labor and Employment. A text by German Philosopher Anselm Jappe, provides a reflection on the history of mining.

Closer than Cafundó, 2015
Slideshow video with narration (14 min. 50 sec.).
Courtesy of the artist.

Closer than Cafundó proposes an associative wander through Brazil’s past and present in relation to mining operations in the country’s south eastern state of Minas Gerais. The piece examines the conflicted relationship between the rights of Indigenous and Afro-Brazilian communities and the mining industry’s exploitative practices. Historical content is presented in free association, similarly to the way that Mineral Practices is laid out.

EXPLORE

  • The notion of the archive and how it is activated in this work;
  • The ways in which the artist explores notions of public awareness and debate.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION

worldofmatter.net/mabe-bethonico

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Ursula Biemann + Paulo Tavares

THE WORK

Forest Law, 2014
Two-channel video projection (sound, 42 min.), table with textual and photographic documents, maps, books, soil samples, and videos.
Commissioned by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan.
Courtesy of the artists.

Forest Law draws on research carried out in the oil and mining frontier along the rain forest of southern Ecuador. This area near the Peruvian border is considered the sovereign land of indigenous nations and is currently under threat of exploitation. Massive extractive operations are weighing heavily on an extraordinary biodiversity and water reserve that are crucial to global climate regulation. Several landmark legal cases are unfolding under the recent Rights of Nature and Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The project takes a slow road in trying to understand the ecological and cosmological dimensions of these paradigmatic trials on behalf of the forest, drawing the contours of the legal, scientific, ethical and political stakes that they raise. Forest Law emerged from a close reading of The Natural Contract by Michel Serres.

EXPLORE

  • Research and the role that it plays in Forest Law;
  • The various types of information, both visual and textual, which constitute this work.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION

worldofmatter.net/ursula-biemann
geobodies.org
worldofmatter.net/paulo-tavares
paulotavares.net

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Frauke Huber + Uwe H. Martin

THE WORK

Landrush, 2011-2014
Reportage on two iPads.
Courtesy of the artists.

Landrush explores the impact of large-scale agro investments on rural economies and land rights, the boom of renewable fuels, the reallocation of land, and the future of agriculture around the world. Comprehensive research, photography, and multi-media storytelling contribute to an investigation of the ways in which farmers might be able to feed nine billion people, while also satisfying the increasing demand for field grown fuel, without trashing the planet. Case studies on Gambella National Park in Ethiopia, currently used for cane sugar and palm oil production, the soya highway in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, and biofuel production in the US state of Iowa provide insight into this massive challenge.

EXPLORE

  • Text and its function in this work;
  • The notion of voice, who it is attached to, how it is deployed, and what it conveys.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION

worldofmatter.net/frauke-huber
worldofmatter.net/uwe-h-martin
uwehmartin.de

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Uwe H. Martin

THE WORK

White Gold, 2007-2014
Multi-channel video installation. 3 video projections, various durations: Texas Blues-Burkina Dream; Frontier Land; Killing Seeds-Dying Sea. 4 videos on LCD screens, various durations: Texas Blues; Burkina Dream; Frontier Land; Killing Seeds.
Courtesy of the artist.

The installation White Gold analyzes the complex structures of global cotton production. It is based on a five-part multimedia reportage that brings together photographs and documentary video footage from India, Texas, Burkina Faso, Brazil and Central Asia—five regions marked by the cultivation of cotton and its far-ranging ecological and social consequences. These range from the massive industrialization of production and the excessive use of water and pesticides to the dis¬semination of genetically modified seeds that cre¬ate new economic dependencies for farmers.

EXPLORE

  • The components of this work and their relationship to space in this installation;
  • The positioning of the viewer.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION

worldofmatter.net/uwe-h-martin
uwehmartin.de

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Peter Mörtenböck + Helge Mooshammer

THE WORK

A World of Matter, 2014
Dymaxion map on adhesive vinyl, textual and photographic documents, books, video (19 min. 41 sec.).
Courtesy of the artists.

Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer analyze how knowledge about resources is produced and disseminated in four thematic strands: Ecological Capital, Demiurgic Worlds, Resource Cities, and Conflict Matter. In their attempt to rethink the interactions between human and non-human actors, concepts such as geoengineering, resource shortages, and (informal) urban planning are embedded in a discursive context. The shift in focus that the global flows of resources and matter entail is rendered visual in a large scale world map on which the key positions of the thematic strands and their points of intersection can be located.

EXPLORE

  • Information, its visual presentation, and how it is meant to be read;
  • Les quatre axes thématiques présentés ici et ce qu’ils nous disent.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION

worldofmatter.net/peter-mortenbock
worldofmatter.net/helge-mooshammer
www.networkedcultures.org
thinkarchitecture.net

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Judy Price

THE WORK

White Oil, 2014
Single-channel video on LCD screen (colour, sound, 65 min., in Arabic with English subtitles), colour photograph.
Courtesy of the artist.

White Oil is a film about the quarries in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank. With over 350 quarries in the West Bank the stone excavated has been termed the ‘white oil’ of Palestine and is the only raw material available to support the Palestinian economy. White Oil explores the way the quarries are not just industrial spaces in which labour and excavation of raw material take place, but lived spaces by unfolding narratives around colonialism, expropriation of land and mobility through the day-to-day lives of the quarry owners, workers and security guards.

White Oil is the result of a three-year collaboration between Judy Price and the film’s participants: quarry owners, workers, and security guards. The film raises questions about the role of the artist as filmmaker, activist, and ethnographer.

EXPLORE

  • The way that White Oil is structured, into day and night, and the significance of this structure;
  • Sound and its role in this work.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION

worldofmatter.net/judy-price
vimeo.com
ucreative.ac.uk/article/36559/Judy-Price

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Lonnie van Brummelen + Siebren de Haan

In collaboration with the fishing community of Urk, Netherlands

THE WORK

Episode of the Sea, 2014
Single-channel video projection (black and white, sound, 35 mm film transferred to video, 63 min.).
Courtesy of the artists.

Episode of the Sea is the result of a two-year collaboration with the fishing community of Urk, a former island in the Netherlands. In the previous century, the Dutch closed off and drained their inland sea to reclaim new farmland. The island of Urk, situated in the middle of the sea, suddenly found itself surrounded by land. Its inhabitants were expected to switch from fishing to farming, but the fishermen managed to continue their trade, finding new fishing grounds far out in the North Sea. Despite being part of the mainland for decades, the fishing village is still reputedly insular and its inhabitants speak their own language. From 2011 to 2013, van Brummelen and de Haan documented the sites and the work of fishing and filmed a dozen staged scenes, performed by members of the fishing community themselves in their local dialect. They assem¬bled the sea, the seagulls, the roar of the engines, the wind, the fishermen’s and fisherwomen’s rec¬itations, and the stories of their mutual encounters into a multivocal composition.

EXPLORE

  • How narrative is constructed in this film, who the participants are and what their contributions to this work are;
  • The filmmaking process and how it reveals itself.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION

worldofmatter.net/lonnie-van-brummelen-siebren-de-haan
vanbrummelendehaan.nl

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