Walking Talking Minerals

Artistic research in queer/feminist ecology and material agency.
Lou Sheppard (CA),
Laura Põld (EE/AT),
Pamela Hart (CA)

As both an element and a global currency, gold straddles the material and symbolic worlds. Gold has become a universally accepted signifier of wealth and currency, with the extraction of gold linked closely to colonial, cultural and economic development. When gold is found there is a “rush” to stake claims, resulting in boom and bust patterns of economic development and settler-colonial/corporate-colonial expropriation of Indigenous lands. Global currencies are backed by gold; gold is thought of as the most stable investment one can make. The fetishization of gold has led to it’s inclusion in many cultural practices and rituals: gold watches, gold rings, golden chalices. The physical malleability of gold is echoed in it’s symbolic malleability. Gold forms looping chains between political, economic, and aesthetic desires.

In the extraction of gold from the earth we read a geo-physical record of the global economy. The gaping pits and caverns of gold mines are sites of loss and desire. The objects and conditions that surround the extraction and use of gold, the performative gestures of capitalism. Working outward from Karen Barad’s connections between quantum theory and the performative entanglement of action and record we engage with what is missing from these sites: the gestures and traces of extraction, the empty space of the mine as a resonant chamber. How might our interventions and reanimations of these spaces shift the spatial and temporal conditions of the sites? How do the reanimations of past gestures and traces continue to resonate in our earth’s future? By working forward into the past, might we, as Barad suggests, work backwards into the future?

A mine that has been abandoned is sometimes called a zombie mine. No longer alive but still lively. Working inwards from Jane Bennets’ geoaffect: The remains of the dead forming animate alliances: a series of unearthly stalagmite formations, a blood-red tailing pond, a snot-like bacteria that synthesizes arsenic left behind from toasting gold out of rocks. Are these zombies the result of a localized apocalypse? What futurities do these alliances envision? What hopes for this broken earth?

We are, all of us, Walking Talking Minerals. Our bodies material animacies, loose allegiances of matter: as such we seek inter-disciplinary, inter-national, inter-temporal possibilities. We recognize a dark parallel between our international collective and the supra-national mining companies we seek to research. As such we interrogate our own complicity within a globalized economy. An economy which has, ultimately, led to our own apocalypse. So now we seek new possibilities- Since March we have been Sheltered-in-place, waiting out a virus that has dissolved the borders of our countries, and the borders of our own bodies. And so we work inward, breaking ourselves down to smaller and smaller molecules, finally to our electrons, only to find that these are but expressions of infinite possibilities. We work outward, our computers, our windows, looking further and further to find a horizon and finding only pixels. (Be)coming together-apart.