The Contour Biennale 9 marks the start of the experimental research project On-Trade-Off. Initiated by the artist initiatives Picha (Lubumbashi, DRC) and Enough Room for Space (Brussels, BE) the project looks at one specific raw material called Lithium, currently considered as the ‘the new black gold’ because of its crucial role in the global transition towards a ‘green and fossil fuel free economy’.
Using one chemical element (Li3) from the periodic table, allows us to zoom in on particular social, ecological, economic and political phenomena that characterize almost all production processes since the start of triangular trade in the 16th century: inhumane labor during the exploitation and extraction processes, a perpetuated economic imbalance to maintain economic growth, and uninformed end-consumers that are unaware of both the devastating production chain that led to their purchased wholesale goods, as much as their afterlife in the sense of a lacking recycling scheme. Exposing the full production chain around Lithium enables us to connect the (seemingly independent) elements that sustain this recurring misbalance.
On-Trade-Off follows the trail of lithium, starting from one specific mine in D.R. Congo, called Manono, which probably contains the world’s largest reserve of this raw material. Informed by the complex global production process to create ‘sustainable’ energy, the journey continues to the largest single battery in the world, Tesla's Energy Storage System in Australia, to finally land in the South of China, the biggest retail hub for electronic- and storage devices worldwide.
The project consists of a series of new (collaborative) art works, developed over a period of two years and sprouting from collectively developed knowledge and research material around the subject, to be used as open source / shared materials, introducing a more sustainable method of (art) production. During its development, On-Trade-Off will manifest itself at each of the three phases of Contour Biennale 9 with new and related existing works of the participants and will offer moments for reflection to elaborate on the progress of making new works.
In the course of the next two years, On-Trade-Off will be developed and presented in various places, formats and contexts, which each presentation focusing on different parts of the storyline.
Participating artists: Sammy Baloji (BE/DRC), Jean-Pierre Bekolo (FR/CM), Alexis Destoop (AU/BE), Marjolijn Dijkman (BE/NL), Gulda El Magambo (DRC), Femke Herregraven (NL), Jean Katambayi (DRC), Frank Mukunday (DRC) & Trésor Tshibangu (DRC), Musasa (DRC), Georges Senga (DRC), Daddy Tshikaya (DRC), Maarten Vanden Eynde (BE)
Presented works during Waxing Crescent Moon Phase 11 - 13 January 2019, Contour Biennale 9