Arabel Lebrusan will be a Visiting Fellow in SECP for the next three months (May-July 2021). Arabel is a Spanish-born artist working in sculpture, drawing, jewellery, and site-specific interventions. Focusing on materials and material culture—such as metal from knives confiscated by police, or mercury used in small-scale gold mining, her work investigates wider issues of power relationships, exploitation and inequality, and her artworks function as social commentary. Arabel is currently exploring notions of extractivism, ecofeminism and ecological grief. During this fellowship, she will research how art making—drawing, sculpturing, performing, moving, acting—can bring us closer to/engaging with ecological and social tragedies happening thousands of miles away. That is, objects and materials have the potential to hold memories (Object Reminiscence framework), or be “vibrant matter” (see Jane Bennet, 2010, “Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things”) and in both perspectives, handling the material plays a crucial role in unlocking those narratives. Arabel asks: can art making activate our empathy at a deeper level than our rational understanding of events, and urge us to act?
During this fellowship Arabel will expand her project TOXIC WAVES on dam failures in Brazil. That is, on January 25, 2019, at Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine in Minas Gerais, a tailings dam belonging to Brazil’s Vale, the world’s largest iron ore producer collapsed and tones of toxic mudflow were released into the valley killing 272 people. Prosecutors referred in a statement to a relationship of “pressure, collusion, rewards and conflict of interest between Vale and the German company TÜV SÜD”. They alleged that Vale hid information about the dam’s instability to avoid hurting the company’s reputation, and TÜV SÜD issued reports saying it was safe. This disaster led to Arabel’s art project “Toxic Waves” which includes large drawings of waves made with clay and other earthy materials and commemorative medals of the people who died at the disaster. If you are interested to see some visuals, please visit the link below (second project on the page, “Toxic Waves”) www.arabellebrusanart.com/virtual-studio-visit/. Arabel will bring to the fellowship site-specific context, connections made with the sister of Eliane Melo, victim of the disaster; and with Claudia Mueller-Hoff, lawyer and human rights specialist at the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights who is supporting the criminal and civil cases.
Arabel will work with mud shipped from the site directly. She is looking forward to meeting with Centre members and will be hosting two workshops (sculpture, and drawing, in collaboration with ONCA gallery and Brighton Centre for Contemporary Arts respectively), a series of meetings, a final exhibition, and collaborations with other environmental artists (dates and details to follow). She will draw reflections and lessons from the workshops that will be helpful for other researchers (artists/non-artists) in the Centre. We also hope that Arabel will be part of the Centre’s contribution to COP26 later on this year.
Arabel is very interested to meet with members and PGR students during her stay. Please do email her on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to meet up individually or in small groups. You can also follow Arabel on Instagram @arabellebrusanart and twitter @lebrusanart. Arabel would be delighted to meet and talk with many of you both at the organised events and informally.