Tesla logo & mining hammer (part of research by Georges Senga)
Initiated by: Picha (Lubumbashi, DRC) and Enough Room for Space (Brussels, BE)
Involved: Sammy Baloji (BE/DRC), Alexis Destoop (AU/BE), Marjolijn Dijkman (BE/NL), Gulda El Magambo (DRC), Femke Herregraven (NL), Jean Katambayi (DRC), Frank Mukunday (DRC) & Trésor Tshibangu (DRC), Musasa (DRC), Georges Senga (NL/DRC), Daddy Tshikaya (DRC), Maarten Vanden Eynde (BE)
Financial support: Contour Biennale 9; Digital Earth Fellowship (Hivos Fund); Cargo in Context; Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF); Thami Mnyele Foundation; De Brakke Grond, Mondriaan Fund, Z33.
Presentations of On-Trade-Off: Picha, Lubumbashi, DRC (2018 - 2019); 9th Contour Biennale, Mechelen, BE (2019); Gallery Imane Farès, Paris, FR (2019); La Colonie, Paris, FR (2019); Enough Room for Space, BE (2019); Cargo in Context, Amsterdam, NL (2019); De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam, NL (2019); 6th Lubumbashi Biennale, DRC (2019); Centre Culturel Jean Cocteau, FR (2019)
Upcoming Presentation: Z33 in Hasselt, BE (2021); Framer Framed in Amsterdam, NL (2022)
Involved producers: arp: / Katrien Reist and Julia Reist
Curator On-Trade-Off film programs: Rosa Spaliviero
On-Trade-Off is an ongoing artistic-research project that reflects on environmental and economic implications of the extraction and processing of Lithium, the main raw material needed for the global production of ‘green energy’.
Focusing on this one naturally occurring element (Li3), allows the project to zoom in on particular social, ecological, economic and political phenomena that characterize the production processes that are currently in full development in the global transition towards a ‘green’ and fossil fuel free economy.
These phenomena show striking similarities with production chains as we have known them since the start of triangular trade in the 16th century: inhumane labor during the exploitation and extraction activities; a perpetuated economic imbalance to maintain economic growth; uninformed end-consumers that are unaware of both the devastating production process that led to their purchased wholesale goods, and their afterlife, in the sense of a lacking recycling scheme.
Exploring and exposing the full production chain around Lithium enables On-Trade-Off to connect the seemingly independent processes of material extraction, transportation and transformation that sustain this recurring misbalance.
Research in process
The project is designed as a collaborative research activity by a (still growing) group of visual artists and critical thinkers that results in a series of new (collaborative) art works, reflective texts and (educational) working materials. While each of the participants approaches On-Trade-Off from his or her own interest and specialism, looking at different raw materials, the history of electricity, market speculation, or social and economic inequality, their works come about from collectively developed knowledge and research material around the subject, to be used as open source / shared materials, introducing a more sustainable method of (art) production. This so-called ‘Banque Collectif’ exists both physically, consisting of books and objects, and digital, as a collection of articles and other source material that are accessible online, bringing to light the undervalued global interdependence and interconnectedness.
On-Trade-Off constructs a platform for transdisciplinary knowledge that, through its holistic and inclusive approach, aims to better understand the processes that shape(d) the world we live in. To enrich this narrative and create long-term spin-offs, collaboration with a multitude of people and organizations from different backgrounds is established, ranging from visual artists, cultural producers, local communities, NGOs, film makers, thinkers, activists, engineers and designers that are engaged in these complex global issues.
In the course of five years (2018-2022), On-Trade-Off is developed and presented in various places, formats and contexts, each presentation focusing on different parts of the storyline.
After several meetings in residencies in 2018, a first series of public presentations started within the framework of Contour Biennale 9 in Mechelen (curated by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez), travelled to la Colonie and galerie Imane Fares in Paris, and afterwards to Cargo in Context and De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam, the 6th Lubumbashi Biennale in Lubumbashi, and the Jean-Cocteau Cultural Centre in Paris.
It will continue to Z33 in Hasselt, BE (2021) and Framer Framed in Amsterdam, NL (2022). We are currently in dialogue with other international partners.
On-Trade-Off is developed in relation to the larger framework of Triangular Trade, a project initiated by Enough Room for Space in 2017. Triangular Trade investigates the influence of transport and trade of pivotal materials like rubber, oil, ivory, copper, diamonds, gold, cotton and uranium, but also people, on exponential economic growth, the creation of nations and other power structures. The project traces back the origin of the different materials and follows their (r)evolutionary paths as they are processed and transformed into 'world changing wonders'.