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Waste Matter. Public Art and the (Im) Materiality of Post-colonial Memory.

Over the last century, the idea of progress and industrial capitalism have created a climate emergency through the violent extraction of natural resources. This research focuses on lithium mineral extraction taking place in Portugal and the consequences that these activities have on the environment and local communities.

Drawing from Robert Smithson´s notion of “ruins-in-reverse” and “abstract geology”, the research takes an interdisciplinary approach by combining geological, archeological and forensic methods with the act of walking, site writing, object analysis and experimental practice to explore the line where fiction and reality blur to uncover the unknown, to find evidence and to give voice to those left behind in the industrial development in places under extractive colonialism and popular resistance, economic dispute and ecological crisis. The research identifies places of origin of raw materials to reconstruct events through the geological layer and traces left by industrial development, to investigate the relation between “‘ruin waste” (Edensor, 2005) and extractive colonialism within the contemporary context of globalisation. Working in sculpture, photography, installation and public works, the practice explores the creative and subversive potential of detritus and material objects gathered from sites of industrial mining in Portugal. Here I attempt to make visible the colonial geographies of geological, social and political exploitation and investigate the intersection between colonial structures of power and the Anthropocene.

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