The Cornwall Workshop

Extraction: Projection

Framing The Penzance Convention and deepening exploration of the theme, The Exchange will present an exhibition of projected image work in the weeks leading up to the Convention, with support from LUMA Foundation. This exhibition is part of an eight-week programme of educational activities and artist-led events and discussions organised by The Exchange around the theme of extraction.

Abigail Reynolds has worked with volunteers to construct the cinematic environment for Extraction: Projection.  Entitled Extraction/Exchange, the installation is made of corrugated card, pallets and reclaimed wood and refers to disparate sources, from picture palaces to modernist architecture, as well as bringing in local references such as Gwennap Pit and the Minack Theatre.

The Extraction: Projection exhibition opens on 27 and 28 April with films by Harun Farocki and Stefanos Tsivopoulos. Following this, guest curators José Roca from Colombia, Daniel Muzyczuk and Agnieszka Pindera from Poland, have been invited to make selections of projected image work in response to the theme. Each of these programmes will run for six days and the curators will visit Cornwall to talk about their selections.

Running concurrently, The Exchange will present archive footage compiled by Awen Productions from South West Film and Television Archive relating to Cornwall’s extractive industries – mining, fishing and farming. Also on view will be compilations of films made by Holman’s Film Unit in Camborne, screened courtesy of the Trevithick Society.

Friday 27 and Saturday 28 April
The Silver and the Cross by Harun Farocki and Amnesialand by Stefanos Tsivopoulos
The Exchange, Penzance, 10am – 5pm

The Extraction: Projection exhibition opens with screenings of two films that relate directly to the theme of extraction.

The Silver and The Cross (2010) by Harun Farocki was commissioned for the exhibition The Potosí Principle at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin in 2010/11.

‘At the beginning of the 17th Century, Potosí was one of the largest cities in the world – comparable to London or Paris. During the Spanish colonial rule, enormous quantities of silver were shipped from Potosí to Europe, giving the early capitalist system a tremendous push, and initiating the start of the modern era.

‘During the Counter-Reformation, this dynamic triggered a mass production of images, not only in Spain, but also in the Viceroyalty of Peru. The exhibition The Potosí Principle traces the circulation of money and art, which developed during that period.’

Harun Farocki’s film reflects on the history of Potosí through a detailed examination of a Baroque painting that depicts the Cerro Rico (the ‘rich mountain’) on which the town’s fortunes were founded.

Stefanos Tsivopoulos’s film Amnesialand (2010), commissioned for Manifesta 8, is composed of archival material from different sources and Tsivopoulos’s own video footage shot in the vicinity of Cartagena in southern Spain. It is accompanied by a script combining fictional and factual information in the form of a dialogue between a female and a male character, who speculate about a mysterious event that is said to have caused a state of collective amnesia:
‘Rich in minerals and close to the shores of North Africa, Cartagena was once the region’s main resource and trading port. For 2500 years, Phoenicians, Romans, Carthagineans and Spaniards have been mining in this district for silver, lead, zinc, copper, tin, iron, and manganese. This activity reached its height during the industrial era, when in 1840 mineral fever hit the region and produced a booming bourgeoisie, still visible in some of the city’s decadent buildings. In the 1980s productivity came to an end, but the ongoing exploitation of natural resources and human labour had taken its toll. As a consequence of the long-lasting mining activities, the mountainous landscapes in the region known as La Unión are transformed: numerous spoil piles and pits extend for many kilometres, leaving a deserted and almost forgotten cratered landscape full of toxic mining waste – an archaeology of mines, and a living memorial to the natural catastrophe that took place here.’

Eva Scharrer, ‘Recalling the archive – on Amnesialand by Stefanos Tsivopoulos’ 2010

Monday 30 April to Saturday 5 May
Exploration, extraction and market
Curated by José Roca
The Exchange, Penzance, 10am – 5pm

Vasco Araujo
Alberto Baraya
Donna Conlon/Jonathan Harker
Jonathan Harker
Javier & Erika
Sanna Kannisto
Miguel Ángel Rojas

José Roca introduces his screening programme:

Many chroniclers have commented that the real ‘discovery’ of the so-called New World did not happen during the 16th century, but in the 18th and 19th centuries, when scientific travellers surveyed the territory in order to chart it and provide a detailed inventory of its resources. While the discourse of science appeared to be devoid of political implications, the expeditions of most of these travellers were financed or endorsed by the colonial powers of the time, and had specific economic goals. Besides mapping the territory and classifying the natural resources, paving the way for their later exploitation, these travellers made acute observations of the social structures they encountered, and their scientifically sanctioned views on race or gender, for example, helped establish or consolidate a hierarchical society based on exclusion. The aftermath of the colonial enterprise can be felt even today, with the continuous plundering of developing countries and their impoverished inhabitants by the unstoppable forces of Capital. This programme approaches the theme of extraction by way of commenting on this continued mining of natural and human resources.

The video programme is loosely divided into three sections. The first three videos deal with exploration in terms of the interplay of territory and power; the second section deals with extraction of local resources; and the programme concludes with a light-hearted riff on the idea of colonial power.

Monday 7 to Saturday 12 May
Sugar in the Air
Curated by Daniel Muzyczuk and Agnieszka Pindera
The Exchange, Penzance, 10am – 5pm

Collective Actions
Hubert Czerepok
Harun Farocki
Igor Krenz & Wojciech Niedzielko
Arthur Lipsett
Eugeniusz Rudnik

Daniel Muzyczuk and Agnieszka Pindera introduce their screening programme:

Sugar in the Air is the title of a novel by Ernest Charles Large, about alternative production models in a period of economic recession. This story of a scientist extracting food from the atmosphere resembles the figure of Friedlieb F. Runge, the nineteenth-century German industrial chemist who was one of the first to discover and isolate many organic compounds. Today recognised as the inventor of a forerunner of modern paper chromatography, a visual method for separation and identification of substances in the mixture, he believed in a ‘creative drive’ that pushes matter to form into colours and shapes. While both characters – the fictional hero of Sugar in the Air and the historical figure Runge – believed in total human control over nature, only Runge had faith in divine reason causing natural phenomena; thus his discoveries can be considered mediums of obscure forces. Moreover chemistry experiments can be understood as a process through which, by mixing or extracting compounds, a certain image of the world becomes visible.

Exposure to view as a necessity in order to gain significance is a means of art production as well. By looking at six episodes, with artists directing the gaze of viewers towards specific objects or processes, we shall address diverse aspects of these semi-scientific extractive processes. In terms of medium, three of the works presented are based on already existing materials rather than creating further new ones. This could, on the one hand, refer to the artists’ views on the contemporary civilisation of excess and over-production or, on the other, reflect an urge to find what was overlooked, and display/extract what  was hidden.  In Interface, a self-referential documentary about the filmmaking process, Harun Farocki presents an interesting perspective on the role of the artist-as-producer in contemporary culture. Through an explanatory introduction to editing processes, manipulations and montage techniques, he investigates the re-reading of moving images. Arthur’s Lipsett’s 21-87 is entirely composed of found footage and cuts of film that were discarded in the editing process. He exploited images depicting science, technology and destruction that indicated the concerns of contemporary society about industrial dehumanisation, consumerism, and the decline of religion. Eugeniusz Rudnik, a Polish electro-acoustic composer, has never made a film, but his works made out of bits of magnetic tape found in the rubbish bin have an illustrative and narrative quality. By gluing them together he makes a mute tape tell a story. Black screen added to Rudnik’s sound piece for this programme simultaneously recalls the etymology of ‘chemistry’, which derives from the Egyptian word for ‘black’, itself named after the black earth of Egypt.

The programme also includes a video by Hubert Czerepok entitled Lux Aeterna (Latin for eternal light) composed entirely of quotations from Romantic poetry and the writings of statesmen, madmen, and tyrants (Juliusz Słowacki, Thomas Jefferson, Anders Breivik, Adolf Hitler), juxtaposed with the landscapes of Norway. Modernist ideas of controlling nature are juxtaposed with the Romantic sublime and the pleasure of the possibility of being crushed by the bewildering forces of nature.

Thematically Communication Problems’ Basics by Igor Krenz & Wojciech Niedzielko and Ballon by Collective Actions refer to the other aspect of the ‘scientific romance’ by E.C. Large – which is also a story of the failure of the individual scientist in the struggle with Capital. These films again recall Runge, whose ideas for large-scale productions were far ahead of their time and were successfully discouraged by bureaucracy. These two rather environmentally oriented films do not employ the montage experiments already mentioned, but are focused on the characters’ actions rather than on post-production techniques. Although Communication Problems’ Basics is based on reverse motion, through this very simple technical manipulation the artists addressed the problem of a general lack of comprehension. Even more important, they sadly proved that the majority decides what the norm is. In some respects a very similar approach can be found in the action documentations made by Collective Actions, an informal grouping of Russian avant-garde artists who were primarily active in the broad field of conceptually inflected performance art in the 1970s. Many of their actions involved aspects of duration and were staged on the outskirts of Moscow, often taking place in semi-clandestine locations, the exact coordinates of which were only disclosed and trafficked by word of mouth.