28 August 2021

On-Trade-Off: Phase Shift

Enough Room for Space, BE

Date: 28 August 2021
Time: 14:00 - 18:00
Location: Enough Room for Space, Drogenbos, BE
Participants: Alexis Destoop and others to be confirmed.


Initiated by: Picha (Lubumbashi, DRC) and Enough Room for Space (Brussels, BE)

Currently involved: Lotte Arndt, Alexis Destoop, Marjolijn Dijkman, Gulda El Magambo, Pélagie Gbaguidi, Oulimata Gueye, Femke Herregraven, Dorine Mokha (†2021), Jean Katambayi Mukendi, Musasa, Alain Nsenga, Georges Senga, Aïko Solovkine, Pamela Tulizo, Maarten Vanden Eynde


Supported by:
Flemish Government (Department of Culture)

Work in progress Alexis Destoop, Manono, DRC, 2019

This event will focus on the overall project On-Trade-Off and particularly on  the research and production of the new film Phase Shift by Alexis Destoop. Alexis Destoop will share work in progress and his research and will be accompanied by other members of On-Trade-Off collective. The event will include film screenings, lectures and a collective discussion. (more soon)

Phase Shift by Alexis Destoop
This new film project sets the stage for a research focusing primarily on Lithium – the volatile and unstable element that has become a symbol for the energetic transition, leading us to a new age (after the age of steam, the nuclear age, ...) The element bears its own contradictions and paradoxes: it’s at once sparse and abundant. Obviously these qualities form potent metaphors for the economic cycle of extraction, processing and production within the precarity of a globalised economy.

Choosing to treat it as an abstract character, an entity with agency, the film will unwind as an investigation, or a quest for a ghostly, or ghost-like, figure. This abstract persona finds its origin, through the cosmological event of the big bang (a creation myth) and after a long hiatus, reappears in early modernity. While the theory underlying the psychiatric use as a mood stabiliser awkwardly resounds with ancient medical theories, and alchemistic practices, it is the use of Lithium compounds as a supercharger in military technology forms a more obvious link to its current fetishised status.

About On-Trade-Off:
On-Trade-Off works on the contemporary dimensions of a question as old, as mythical and as strategic as our relation to energy. Taking the recent run on lithium as a starting point, the project explores a broad range of questions surrounding raw materials for technological industries, financial speculation, and the history of electricity.

On-Trade-Off was sparked by the ‘discovery’ of a large lithium deposit in Manono, a mining area in the DRC. The mine is not only a place of historical extractivism but plays a key role for the promise of green energy. As Manono is currently transformed into a site of speculation and future exploitation, On-Trade-Off simultaneously unfolds as a structure for counter-narratives and alternative forms of collaboration and artistic creation.

On-Trade-Off will present new artworks developed during residencies and research on site in Belgium, DR Congo, China and Australia. Our propositions – in media as varied as photography, film, painting, sculpture and digital formats – debate how technological innovation depends on raw material extraction.