Maldives Pavilion – Geveruti Foundation, Venice Biennial, May 31 2013

Water. Coltan. Carbon. Oil. Air. Lithium. Fish. Rice Land. Gold. All of these raw materials, so extensively extracted and harvested today, are of great interest to World of Matter, an international art, research, and web project to be launched in Fall 2013. With the book Provisões, the group compiles a series of texts and materials that were produced for its first public event in Belo Horizonte in April 2012. The bilingual publication (Portuguese/English) has the flair of a workbook for World of Matter, as the project evolves towards the launch of its comprehensive multi-media web platform and its first mise-en-scène in the exhibition space of HMKV Dortmund in Germany later this year.

World of Matter – a play on words with a world of material flows but also a world for which we care – is a collaboration between artists, photojournalists and documentary filmmakers, architects and programmers, who have extensively worked on resources and space politics, with theorists from the fields of geography, art history and cultural theory.

In the last sixty years, more natural resources have been raided by humans than in all previous centuries together. Large-scale mining is penetrating ever deeper layers, multinational land grabs are advancing to remote corners, and the race is on for the neocolonial division of the seabed. This frantic rhythm of ‘progress’ has spurred images of crisis and doom while firing up the competitive rush for new frontiers.

With growing consciousness about global environmental limits, there is urgent need for new discourses and modes of representation that shift resource-related debates from a market driven domain to open platforms for engaged and decentralized public discourse. First and foremost, the assumption that everything is a potential resource for human consumption must be challenged, as this anthropocentric vision has led directly to countless environmental and social disasters. The book traces a move from a notion of resources understood as a system of supply lines for humans towards a deeper attention to the situated materialities of stuff like gold, rice, cotton, or water and the complex, multispecies configurations within which they emerge. This considers a planetary perspective on a world that matters. Focusing on the development of innovative and ethical approaches to renewable and non-renewable resources (agricultural, maritime, fossil, mineral, land, water), World of Matter considers visual source material a crucial tool for education, activism, and public awareness, particularly in light of increasingly privatized commodity chains and the gated power networks that control them.

Held in the Brazilian mining state of Minas Gerais, the conference Provisões represented a rich opportunity for World of Matter to engage with a knowledgeable audience on questions related to the relationships that prescribe “resource ecologies,” both here and afar. In a location largely characterized by the massive extraction and export of mineral and agricultural resources, and moreover imbued with a colonial history of violent species displacements, the discussion was fed by valuable inputs from Brazilian speakers and audience members who have their word in this publication.

PROVISÕES – uma conferência visual
published by World of Matter, edited by Mabe Bethônico
Portuguese/English, 165 pages, black and white, profusely illustrated
Contributors: Elaine Gan, Emily Scott, José Augusto Pádua, Kaká Werá, Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan, Mabe Bethônico, Paulo Tavares, Peter Mörtenböck & Helge Mooshammer, Renata Marquez, Rogério Haesbaert, Ursula Biemann, Uwe H. Martin & Frauke Huber.