The installation 'On-Trade-Off' consists of the new works ‘Le Vide / The Void’, by Georges Senga and ‘Future Flora: Manono’, by Maarten Vanden Eynde. On-Trade-Off will also exhibit research materials including a futuristic animation, ‘Video Fly Through of the Manono Lithium and Tin Project’ created by the Australian mining company and concession holder for this area, AVZ Minerals. There is also a filmed interview with the local representative of the Ministry of Mines, Mongowa Pute Hubert, who talks about the past and current situation of Manono and his perspective on what the future could bring.
The starting point for the research project On-Trade-Off is the raw material lithium. A naturally occurring element (number three on the periodic table), lithium is currently considered to be ‘the new black gold’ because of its crucial role in the global transition towards a ‘green and fossil fuel free economy’. Focusing on this one chemical element (Li3) allows the project to zoom in on particular social, ecological, economic and political phenomena that characterize the production processes currently experiencing rapid growth.
These phenomena show striking similarities with production chains as we have known them since the start of triangular trade in the 16th century: inhumane labour in the exploitation and extraction processes; a perpetuated economic imbalance to maintain economic growth; uninformed end consumers who are unaware of both the devastating production chain behind the goods they have purchased and their afterlife in the sense that a recycling scheme is lacking.
As well as a display of related research material from the trip to Manono by Maarten Vanden Eynde, Jean Katambayi and Gulda El Magambo in June 2019, the presentation includes:
Georges Senga, ‘The Void / Le Vide’, 2019
Georges Senga has produced a new photo series called ‘The Void / Le Vide’, developed in and around abandoned mining sites and factories belonging to Gecamines, the biggest mining company in Katanga that is currently nearly bankrupt. What void is left behind after their decline in the 1980s? What void do the artisanal miners leave behind after digging tunnels with their homemade pickaxes, which ironically look like the Tesla logo?
Maarten Vanden Eynde, ‘Future Flora: Manono’, 2019
‘Future Flora: Manono’ is a graphic translation of the largest lithium reserves recently discovered in Manono, D.R. Congo into a copper circuit, surrounded by the outlines of the mining concession of the Australian mining company AVZ Minerals. This map has been transferred on a PCB (printed circuit board) and decorated with a wide variety of seeds and grains that were collected in Manono, representing transistors and electrical components. Together these elements create a lukasa, or memory board, like the ones used by the Bambudye within the Luba Kingdom in the Democratic Republic of Congo throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. They were archives used for the topographical and chronological mapping of political histories and to record important people, places and mythical migration routes. The seeds are organised in relation to the graphical outlines of the mining concession and evoke the memory of seed collection, preservation, modification and militarisation. At the same time, they function as a backup for rare plant species that sometimes only grow on one specific hill or valley because of the presence of minerals in the soil. These seeds can be used to recreate the original fauna and flora once the mining activities are over.
On Trade Off was initiated by Picha (Lubumbashi, DRC) and Enough Room for Space (Brussels, BE)
Participants: 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 (NL/DRC), Daddy Tshikaya (DRC), Maarten Vanden Eynde (BE)
Overall coordination and production: Katrien & Julia Reist / arp: Brussels (BE)