POLLEN20 Call for contributions to a collective exhibition – ‘Extracting Us’

The Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Are you interested in sharing creative work around extractivism? Would you like to join an action-research-led exhibition project?

We are calling for contributions to a collective exhibition at the POLLEN20 conference that seeks to bring together feminist political ecological perspectives and extractivism. The exhibition will build on and expand the ‘Extracting Us: Looking differently Feminism, Politics and Coal Extraction’ photography exhibition that was inaugurated in July 2019 at ONCA Gallery in Brighton (for more information, see: https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/secp/2019/07/04/extracting-us/). This first exhibition was based on photographs from coal extraction in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province.

The idea is to develop a mobile exhibition that expands on this original material and brings together a variety of media (photography, sculpture, sound, 3D art etc.) that is gathered together under a unifying curatorial approach. A collaborative action research will develop by using the exhibition materials. The idea is to be open to a wide range of contexts and stories, and to share these, guided by the following principles:

  • 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).

POLLEN20 and the exhibition convenors will provide space, experience, advice and limited printing facilities. Note that contributors will need to fund/fundraise any material or production costs for their contribution.

If you would like to contribute, please submit the following information to extracting-us@outlook.com by 13th November 2019: 

  • A short outline of your contribution, including the theme and how it fits into the principles of ‘Extracting Us’ (no more than 400 words)
  • Details of the artwork to be presented (200 words)
  • Technical information:
    • Technical details of the artwork to be shared (size, weight, material, etc.)
    • What space/area will you require? Outdoor or indoor?
    • What is needed in order to share your contribution? Any specialised equipment?
    • What resources will you need in order to make your contribution? (anyone needed to explain, production time, funding you might need and how you intend to fundraise, etc.)

If you would like to discuss your proposed contribution, please get in touch at extracting-us@outlook.com.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Siti Maimunah, Rebecca Elmhirst, Elona Hoover, Dian Ekowati and Alice Owen.

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