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Ignacio Acosta is an artist and researcher working in territories under pressure from extractive industries. His multi-layered collaborative practice and spatial installations seek to connect audiences with these complex but critical concerns.

He is a Research Associate, as part of Traces of Nitrate team with Louise Purbrick and Xavier Ribas. Their collaborative visual research project Solid Water, Frozen Time, Future Justice: Photography and Mining in the Andean Glaciers, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), documents the effects of copper and lithium mining on glacier systems of the Chilean Andes.

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A Chilean-born artist and researcher, Ignacio works in places made vulnerable through the exploitation of ecologies by colonial intervention and intensive capitalisation.

He is devoted to the understanding of sites and landscapes that, although often neglected, are of global significance. His projects focus upon resistance to mining on valuable natural environments and, through technologies of seeing, he develops work towards the generation of meaningful visual and spatial narratives.

Acosta offers new ways of seeing ecology and counter-action on a planetary scale. His interconnected research strands and projects – many of which span several years – involve extensive fieldwork, investigative analysis, audio-visual documentation, and critical writing on sites and materials of symbolic significance. Situated within the urgent need for artistic approaches to critically address the depleting landscapes created by mining, his work creatively negotiates the conflicts buried within our living world.

Through thorough, investigative and ethical practices, his methodology is akin to a forensic investigator in his desire to uncover and expose highly ambivalent power dynamics. Moreover, the multiple layers that comprise his individual research process contribute to larger, vibrant collaborations with activists, artists, scientists, writers and Indigenous Peoples.

Strategic juxtapositions are a key feature of his work – both ideologically, and aesthetically in his visually complex pieces. Yet it is the research practice that underpins his artistic practice.

Acosta undertook a practice-based PhD at the University of Brighton, UK, as part of Traces of Nitrate, a research project developed in collaboration with Art and Design historian Louise Purbrick and photographer Xavier Ribas, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The publication that stems from his PhD Copper Geographies was published by Editorial RM.

He is a Research associate at the Royal College of Arts (RCA), as part of the Solid Water, Frozen Time, Future Justice: Photography and Mining in the Andean Glaciers (2021-2024), an AHRC 3-year collaborative visual research project by the Traces of Nitrate team. Their project documents the effects of copper and lithium mining on glacier systems of the Chilean Andes.

He is also a Post-Doctoral Research fellow at the Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism (CEMFOR) Uppsala University, Sweden where le leads a 4-year visual collaborative research project Indigenous perspectives on forest fires, drought and climate change: Sápmi (2022-2026), a FORMAS (Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development).

His research is distributed through exhibitions, public events, publications and online platforms. At a time of uncertain futures, his presentations remain open-ended and can be used as source for education, activism and visual culture.

Recent exhibitions include: Into the Deep: Mines of the Future, Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen, Germany (2023); Sacré Mormont, Palais de la Rumine, Lausanne, Switzerland (2023); All That Is Solid Melts Into Water, Kunsthalle Oslo, Norway (2023); Ewiges Eis (Eternal Ice), Paisaje | Experiencia | Producción: Fotografía y Territorios Productivos en Chile (2000-2020), MAC, Santiago, Chile (2023); Mining Photography, Kunst Haus Wien, Austria (2023); Inverting the Monolith, MBAL, Switzerland (2022); Museum Sinclair-Haus in Bad-Homburg, Germany (2022); Mining Photography Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Germany (2022); Archaeology of Sacrifice, Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen, Germany (2020); Human Nature, Västerbottens Museum, Sweden (2020); Tales from the Crust, Arts Catalyst, London, England (2019); Drones y Tambores, Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, Santiago, Chile (2019); Litte ja Goabddá; Ájtte Museum, Jokkmokk, Sweden (2019); Tierra, CDAN / Centro de Arte y Naturaleza, Huesca, Spain (2019); Game of Drones, Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen, Germany (2019); Drone Vision, Hasselblad Centre, Göteborg, Sweden (2018); Mapping Domeyko, Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art, Poland (2018); Copper Geographies, National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, England (2017); Traffiking the Earth, MAC, Museo Arte Contemporáneo, Chile (2017).

Indigenous perspectives on forest fires, drought and climate change: Sápmi
Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS), Sweden, 2022

Frozen Future, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), UK, 2022

Tales from the Crust, Arts Council England, UK, 2022

British Council, Santiago, Chile, 2018

Traces of Nitrate follow On, AHRC, 2017

Doctoral Award Traces of Nitrate, AHRC, 2012-16

ZF Art Foundation Scholarship, Friedrichshafen, Germany, 2020

La Becque, Principal Artist residency, 2020 La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland

Drone Vision, Hasselblad Foundation / Valand Academy, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2017-18

Serlachius Residency, Mänttä-Vilppulan, Finland La Becque, 2017-18

Mining Photography (2022) Spector Books: Leipzig

Art and Climate Change (World of Art), (2022) Thames&Hudson: London

Drone Vision: Warfare, Surveillance, Protest, (2022), Art and Theory, Gothenburg

Mining and Resistance in Fennoscandia, (2022) Yes to Life No to Mining

Arts contemporains et anthropocène, (2022) Hernann: France

Photographie contemporaine & anthropocène, (2022) Filigranes Éditions: Latvia

2El Cuarto Mundo (2022) Bienal de Artes Mediales, Santiago

Missing Words for Considering Stones, Rocks, Pebbles and Mountains: A Vocabulary of Proximity (2021) Stone Statements Editions: Geneva

Interactions Magazine (2020) UK

Archaeology of Sacrifice (2020) modo Verlag: Freiburg

Games of Drone exhibition catalogue (2020) Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen: Germany

”Trafficking the Earth: Documents on Nitrate, Copper and Capitalism” (2019) in Transformations Journal, Southern Cross University: Australia

Litte ja Goabddá (2019) Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende: Chile

Copper Geographies (2018) Editorial RM: Barcelona/Mexico

Trafficking the Earth exhibition catalogue (2018) Intuitive Editions/Editorial Gronefot: London

Mapping Domeyko exhibition catalogue (2018) Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdásk, Poland

The Copper Geographies of Britain and Chile: A Photographic Study of Mining (2017)
PhD thesis, University of Brighton