Mobilizing Materialities

University of Minnesota, Katherine E. Nash Gallery, September 14th-17th, 2017

Amanda Hansmeyer, Crude Taconite at Cliffs Natural Resources in Hibbing, Minnesota, 2009
Courtesy of the Duluth News Tribune

The world we inhabit is expanding. Global population growth, increased mobility, accelerated contacts, rising levels of production and consumption, and the expansion of natural resource extraction have had significant impacts in environmental, social and psychological terms. The research conducted by the artists, theorists, and photojournalists involved in World of Matter—a multiyear, transnational art and media platform which will take the form of an exhibition and series of programs here, at the University of Minnesota, in fall 2017—coheres around a sensitive reconsideration of the planet’s “resources,” as traders call them. The artworks included in the exhibition (September – December 2017 at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery) adopt a variety of formats and strategies to delve into relations between humans and the world, in some cases by way of historical narratives, in others, through scientific laboratory research, community collaboration, visualization technologies, or activist organization. Many projects have furthermore involved intensive, multiyear fieldwork in sites of heightened material significance, often in collaboration with indigenous communities, who are experts in sustainable coexistence and for whom the world is not merely a resource for human consumption that needs to be controlled. These investigative experiments animate an emergent notion of artistic global citizenship, breaking up well-worn patterns of representation by embracing a plethora of aesthetic, conceptual and interventionist engagements with “matter.”

In Minneapolis, our attention will focus on the ways that specific material(itie)s in the ground mobilize multi-scale (geo-)politics as well as transnational movements—all this set against the immediate backdrop of the Great Lakes region, a historical and contemporary hub of heavy industry, transport, and intensive extraction. One aim of the entire program is, indeed, to support and extend existing dialogues and action along these lines within the greater Great Lakes region, reaching to the Alberta Tar sands and Bakken oil fields.



Thursday, September 14th
Film screening, exhibition opening and artist talks.

September 15th-16th
Interdisciplinary faculty from the University of Minnesota will lead a participatory field excursion to Minnesota’s Iron Range based on their shared research and teaching into resilient landscapes, dredge ecologies, collective landscape.

Please book your trip here.

Sunday, September 17th
An all-day symposium will explore the expanded role of the geo- (as in Earth-based, geological, Earth systems related) in current artistic and scholarly research as well as the importance of collective, cross-disciplinary investigation in elucidating and actively responding to emergent geo-social/-political realities/scrutinize zones of geopolitical-ecological upheaval.


World of Matter: Mobilizing Materialities has been made possible by the University of Minnesota’s Imagine Chair in the Arts, Design and Humanities, the Department of Landscape Architecture and the School of Architecture.
The event is co-sponsored by the Center for Changing Landscapes, the Department of Art, and the Katherine E. Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota; the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture, DARCH gta, ETH Zürich; Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture + Urbanism and the Carleton Urban Research Lab (c.url) in Ottawa, Canada; ifa: Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, ifa), Stuttgart, Germany; and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.