Tesla logo & mining hammer (part of research by Georges Senga)
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, Pamela Tulizo, Maarten Vanden Eynde
Formerly involved: Sammy Baloji (2018-2019), Daddy Tshikaya (2018-2019)
On-Trade-Off is developed and presented in various places, formats and contexts, each presentation focusing on different parts of the storyline.
Current Exhibition: Charging Myths, Z33, Hasselt, BE (6 March - 21 August 2022)
Former presentations: Picha, Lubumbashi, DRC (2018 & 2019); 'Coltan as Cotton' 9th Biennale Contour, Mechelen, BE (2019); Gallerie 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 Biennale de Lubumbashi, RDC (2019); Centre Culturel Jean Cocteau, FR (2019); Digital Earth Talks, Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai, UAE (2019); The Contemporary Art Days Summit Södertälje and Gnesta, SE (2019); The Parasite, KABK, The Hague, NL (2020); Intersections of Care, Wiels (online, 2020); EURO—VISION Assembly, Radar & Arts Catalyst, UK (Online, 2020); Phase Shift, Enough Room for Space, BE (2021); MIG, La Générale, Paris, FR (2021)
Upcoming presentations: 7th Lubumbashi Biennale, DRC (Autumn 2022); Framer Framed, Amsterdam, NL (Spring 2023)
Partners for upcoming presentations: Thami Mnyele Foundation, Amsterdam, NL; FLACC, Genk, BE.
Artistic Coordination Picha: Georges Senga, Jean Katambayi Mukendi
Artistic Coordination ERforS: Marjolijn Dijkman, Maarten Vanden Eynde
Editorial Team: Lotte Arndt, Oulimata Gueye
Assistant coordination Picha: Didier Shimbi
Assistant coordination ERforS: Constance Nguyen
Producers (2018-2020): arp: / Katrien Reist, Julia Reist
Financial support: Digital Earth Fellowship (Hivos Fund); Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF); Kunsten & Erfgoed, BE; Thami Mnyele Foundation; De Brakke Grond, Mondriaan Fund.
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.
By setting up a transversal dynamics that abolishes centres and exoticism, we aim to render obsolete the fallacious dichotomy between those who ‘hold the technological knowledge’ and those who should catch up’. Our process of art production puts the question of (free) tools, (fair) practices, and knowledge (that matter) at the core. We have the ambition to imagine and articulate critical, sensitive and speculative works of art that echo the incredible and tormented times we are living in.
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.
As On-Trade-Off brings together the extremities of the world-spanning value chains, from its exploitative mining economies to its seductive product surfaces, it simultaneously experiments with a large array of artistic languages enabled by those same raw materials and technologies. The tension between examining matter and myths underpinning high tech innovation, and the use of those same technologies for our international collaboration becomes a fertile ground for the project. We are working on both physical exhibitions and as a digital Online Platform. On-Trade-Off is merging multiple sites of work, life and exchange that – although geographically distant – are central to its existence.
While the South/North borders are highly obstructed, the shipping of metals and ores is assured. How can we think beyond the dividing force of exploitative technologies today and, as artists, create new spaces for imagination, stories, and connection across continents? As a collective we can reveal the blind spots, by giving forms to mutations, by exploring the imaginary potential of the very present moment.
“There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.” – Octavia Butler
On-Trade-Off constructs a digital platform for trans-disciplinary 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 organisations from different backgrounds is established, ranging from visual artists, cultural producers, local communities, filmmakers, thinkers, activists, engineers and designers that are engaged in these complex global issues. The outcomes debate, emphasise and question how technological innovation depends on raw material extraction by merging multiple sites of work, life and exchange that – although geographically distant – are central to its existence.
The website, which is currently under construction, aims to present the work of the collective as well as the programme and various exhibitions in which OTO participates. Later, the website will allow members to access archives and research online with the challenge and main goal of being accessible from anywhere in the world and especially in countries like the DRC where data is expensive and access to electricity unequal. It is thus optimised to prioritise data and to be as light as possible. The consumption of the website is also specified in order to raise awareness of our consumption.