Context + Background: World of Matter

World of Matter is an international art and media project investigating primary materials (fossil, mineral, agrarian, maritime) and the complex ecologies of which they are a part. Initiated by an interdisciplinary group of artists and scholars, the project responds to the urgent need for new forms of representation that shift resource-related debates from a market driven domain to open platforms for engaged public discourse.

The project seeks to develop innovative and ethical approaches to the handling of resources, while at the same time challenging the very assumption that the planet’s materials are inevitably a resource for human consumption; this human-centered vision has been the motor for many environmentally and socially disastrous developments. The social ecologies presented on this site give evidence to the interdependence between human and non-human actants in this fragile system.

World of Matter considers visual source material a valuable instrument for education, activist work, research, and raising general public awareness, particularly in light of the ever more privatized nature of both actual resources and knowledge about the powers that control them. Hence the project acts through exhibitions, public events, publications and an online platform.

The multimedia platform, launched in Brussels in 2013, is the backbone of the collaborative project, providing an open access archive that connects different files, actors, territories and ideas. Its content is the result of extensive field research and media production in situations of heightened material significance, including: the extractive Amazon basin, Indian cotton farmers, water ecologies of the Nile, fisheries in the Dutch polders, mining culture in the Brazilian Minas Gerais, and the rush for arable land in Ethiopia. The platform includes material from the World of Matter core group as well as a number of additional, related art and media projects. It is conceived in such a way as to stimulate a variety of possible readings about the global connectivity among these sites.

World of Matter considers a planetary perspective on a world that matters.

The core group includes Mabe Bethonico, Ursula Biemann, Uwe H. Martin, Helge Mooshammer & Peter Mörtenböck, Emily E. Scott, Paulo Tavares, Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan.

The World of Matter online multimedia platform is funded by the Zurich University for the Arts and George Foundation.

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