Copper Geographies (2010-2016) invites the viewer on a journey of copper from raw material through stock market exchange value, smelted commodity, capital wealth and recycled material.
Copper is a miraculous and paradoxical metal characterised by high electrical and thermal conductivity. It is an essential element for nearly every human enterprise. Hidden in plastic, behind walls, bound into cables, carried as loose change; copper is everywhere yet rarely seen.
Although the metal plays a key role in worldwide information and communication technologies, very little attention has been paid to how the industry impacts on the ecologies in which it operates.
Due to its unique geological configuration in the Andean subduction zone, Chile contains the world’s largest deposits of copper – 27.5 per cent of global reserves, mainly located in the Atacama Desert.
The resulting ecology of extraction in the Atacama has come to be at the centre of a series of political and environmental disputes. Amongst the many conflicts that have arisen are protracted legal battles involving, on the one hand, the big multinational corporations that control 70 per cent of Chilean copper output, and on the other the indigenous agricultural communities struggling with growing desertification, water contamination and land expropriation.
From the transformed landscapes of the Atacama Desert through a re-imagined voyage to Wales and the City of London, Copper Geographies documents spaces of circulation, environmental disruption, protest and trade, and makes visible the return of the copper hidden within technological devices to its geographical origins.
Copper Geographies has been published by Editorial RM in 2018. The book presents documentary research in the form of maps, photographs and texts, and offers a critical spatial imaginary for re-thinking the geographies of copper.
Ignacio Acosta is Chilean-born, London-based artist and researcher working with photography and moving image exploring geopolitical power dynamics around minerals, their geographies and historical narratives.
His interconnected research projects involve extensive fieldwork, investigative analysis, visual documentation and critical writing on sites and materials of symbolic significance.
He works with places made vulnerable through exploitation of ecologies by colonial intervention and intensive capitalisation.
Acosta focuses upon resistance to extractivist industrial impact on valuable natural environments and, through technologies of seeing, he develops work towards the generation of meaningful visual narratives.
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