Following the success of the exhibition “Extracting Us. Looking Differently: Feminism, Politics and Coal Extraction” at ONCA gallery in Brighton in July 2019, the curatorial team launched a call to create a further collective exhibition as part of the biennal Political Ecology Network conference (POLLEN20) to be held at the University of Brighton in June 2020.

The exhibition is now moving online following the postponement of the conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Creating an online exhibition and conversation responds to the need to continue critical conversations around the political ecologies of extractivism in and beyond the global public health crisis.

The online exhibition will feature contributions foregrounding different community and researcher experiences of extractivism around the world will be launched at the end of July (watch this space!). It will include a selection from the 13 contributions originally proposed for the exhibition, including researchers/artists/activists working in extractivist contexts including  Indonesia, Ireland, France, UK, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Brazil, Ecuador, Trinidad, Gambia, Zambia and Tajikistan.

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. The exhibition will challenge the viewer to make (sometimes unexpected) connections between the cases and themes explored, including how extractivism affects both people and the environment, humans and non-humans.

We are also finding that moving the exhibition online is offering many innovative opportunities for engagement. The change in format allows for the incorporation of critical responses to the artwork as part of the online space, both from contributors using more embodied or performative practices and from invited contributors among artist and activist networks such as the Women and Mining Network in Asia (WAMA). Moving online, the exhibition will now be accessible to communities who would not be able to visit the exhibition in real life, although there are still limitations such as internet access and language that the team are working through at the pre-emptive stage.

A series of events will accompany the launch of the Extracting Us site, and new content will be added every two weeks until mid-September to invite continued engagement (links will be added as details are confirmed):

24th June, 12-1:30pm (UK time): webinar sharing examples of practicing art “on the front line” with conversation and online discussion.

End of July: Exhibition launch and webinar on “Pandemics – Care – Extractivism”

22/25 September: Webinar as part of the postponed POLLEN20 conference to weave together the contributions and to look forward to the future of this evolving exhibition.

Ahead of the launch, there will also be a video presentation introducing the exhibition at the ‘Extraction: Tracing the Veins’ online conference organised by Massey University, New Zealand and Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands.

Contributors who intended to join the POLLEN conference exhibition include: Luce Choules, Pedro Figueiredo Neto, Maica Gugolati, Negar Behzadi, V’cenza Cirefice, Marilene Ribeiro, Margherita Scazza, Paul Gilbert, Mary Menton, Fran Lambrick, Gin Cromie and Justine Taylor, Philip Gain, Edgar Kanaykõ Xakriabá, Mot Kimry, Polen Ly,  Mona Simon, Nathan Oxley, Lyla Mehta, Shibaji Bose, Becky Ayre, Sandro Simon, Alice Owen and  Ru-Yu (Iris) Lin.

The exhibition is being co-curated by centre members Elona Hoover, Rebecca Elmhirst, Dian Ekowati, Alice Owenand Louise Purbrick along with WEGO network member Siti Maimunah and the team and ONCA Gallery.

In addition to support from the Centre of Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics and ONCA gallery, the project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 764908.

Photo credit: postcard created by Yuyun Ismawati, an Indonesian scholar-activist who visited the gallery and attended the reading group (Photo: Siti Maimunah).