Cargo In Context & De Brakke Grond ~ On-Trade-Off; The Weight Of Wonders

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On-Trade-Off; The Weight of Wonders

With: Sammy Baloji, Marjolijn Dijkman, Maarten Vanden Eynde, Musasa, Jean Katambayi, Georges Senga and Daddy Tshikaya
On-Trade-Off is a long-term artistic research project by an international group of artists, filmmakers and researchers, that want to bring attention to the ecological and economic implications of the extraction and processing of lithium, the most important natural resource for the world-wide production of ‘green’ energy. In the West, lithium is presented as a major step in the production of a green economy, while the burdens for the local population, where lithium is extracted, are neglected.

Cargo and De Brakke Grond have combined their strengths for a first presentation in the Netherlands of this extensive project, after previous stages of this project were presented at Contour Biennal Mechelen (BE), Galerie Imane Farès (FR) and the Lubumbashi Biennale (DRC).
Lia Gieling, curator Cargo in Context
Wytske Visser, programme manager visual arts Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond

On-Trade-Off follows the trace of lithium from its origin, namely the mining town Manono in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the largest lithium ore supply in the world has been discovered. Lithium has been named ‘the new black gold’. A diverse group of artists follows the international trade
route via Australia and China to Europe.
By using one chemical element – Li3 – On-Trade-Off zooms in on the social, ecological, economical and political aspects that are present in almost all
production processes since the triangular trade in the 16th century. Think of the inhuman labour during the extraction, the economical inequality to sustain
economical growth by all costs and the ignorant end users that are not aware of what will happen to the purchased goods.
By exposing the full supply chain of lithium, the (seemingly independent) elements that sustain this recurring imbalance, are connected and made visible.

From Manono (DRC) the journey continues to Australia, where the Tesla Energy Storage System is, currently the largest battery in the world and then to China, the largest producer of lithium batteries that are massively exported to the West.
Speculatively, the route ends in Africa, where a lot of electronic waste is dumped and is therefor returned to its origin, completing the triangular trade.

On-Trade-Off is developed in several spaces, in diverse forms and contexts, where each presentation or spin-off focuses on different elements of the
larger story. Collaboration and exchange is created everywhere with an abundance of people and organisations with diverse backgrounds, such as visual artists, curators, local communities, NGOs, filmmakers, thinkers, activists, computer engineers and designers.

The project exists of a series of new individually and collectively made art works. These are developed during three years and are the result of collectively
acquired knowledge and gathered research material around the subject.
Each of the participants approaches On-Trade-Off from their own artistic interest and media and the collected research material will be made available
to all participants as open source. This introduces a more sustainable form of (art) production.

The exhibition: The Weight of Wonders

The exhibition in Cargo with the subtitle The Weight of Wonders shows new works, which have been developed in response to a recent collective research
trip to the region of Manono in the DRC.

Georges Senga
Georges Senga (DRC, 1983), who recently received the Thami Mnyele Award, produced a new photo series named The Void / Le Vide, developed in and around the abandoned mines and factories of Gécamines, the largest but almost bankrupt mining company in Katanga (DRC). “Which void did they leave after the decay in the 80’s and which void do the artisan miners leave after the digging of tunnels with their self-made pickaxes, that ironically look like the Tesla logo?”

Marjolijn Dijkman
Earthing Discharge by Marjolijn Dijkman (NL, 1978) is a first result of her research of how electricity as natural science has been linked since the 18th century to economy and the enlightenment ideals, in relation to the specific context of Manono (DRC). Dijkman works with electro-photography, in which she uses electrical discharge with minerals out of lithium to emphasize several collected objects from Manono.

Maarten Vanden Eynde and Musasa
Maarten Vanden Eynde (BE, 1977), together with the Congolese painter Musasa, produced the series Material Matters, paintings that show the implications of the extraction and processing of natural elements from the periodic table. For the presentation in the Amsterdam Houthaven they created three new paintings: Carbon (C6), Silicon (Si14) and Tantalum (Ta73). Next to this the work Future Flora: Manono is exhibited, where seeds from Manono are organized on a large computer print board (PCB) around the lithium concession map of AVZ-minerals, the Australian mining company that owns 60% of the shares of the future largest lithium mine in Manono. The seeds depict the electrical components on PCB’s and refer to the memory boards, or Lukasa, that the Bambudye used in the Luba kingdom in Congo to remember and communicate all sorts of historical, mythical and geographical information.

Sammy Baloji, Jean Katambayi, Daddy Tshikaya
Next to a display case with research material and background information, there will also be a scale model of the notorious Tesla Model X. It is part of the project Tesla Crash, a Speculation by Sammy Baloji (DRC, 1978), Jean Katambayi (DRC, 1974) and Daddy Tshikaya (DRC, 1986). Meanwhile, a 1:1 scale model has also been constructed in Lubumbashi with the same weaving technique of recycled copper wire. This wire construction is inspired by the miniature replicas of cars children of the workers in the mining camps in Lubumbashi made. In the camps and towns where workers live with a modest income, the invention and the creation of games and children’s toys, mostly wire cars made of recycled material, is still popular.

Public Programme

The public programme will take place both in Cargo and De Brakke Grond.
Cargo in Context: Haparandadam 7
De Brakke Grond: Nes 45

Friday 15 November
Opening from 5 pm
With a live column by Hicham Khalidi, director Jan van Eyck Academy
Location: Cargo in Context (language: English)

Sunday 24 November ~ 2 – 5.30 pm
Part of Amsterdam Art Weekend:
Screening The Congo Tribunal by Milo Rau (2017; (ZW/D 2017; 100 min; English subtitels)
followed by an artist talk between Marjolijn Dijkman, Maarten Vanden Eynde and Georges Senga
Moderator: Anke Bangma, director TENT.Rotterdam
Location: Cargo in Context (language: English)

Sunday 8 December ~ 3 – 6 pm
Film programme that shows different films that have substantial links to The Weight of Wonders, by among others Sammy Baloji, composed by curator and
film producer Rosa Spaliviero; discussion led by Pauline Burmann, Thami Mnyele Foundation
Location: De Brakke Grond (language: English)

Thursday 12 December ~ 3.30 – 6.30 pm
LUNÄ Talk led by Marjolijn Dijkman and Maarten Vanden Eynde
The LUNÄ Talk, joined by diverse experts, will focus on the ecological, social and economical consequences of the extraction and processing of lithium.
In the discussion we will look at the history of energy and expand on the usage of raw materials of DRC in both the industrial and the technological
Participants: Dries Bols, Raf Custers, Patricia Fara and others
Location: Cargo in Context (language: English)

Partners of Cargo and the Brakke Grond are: Thami Mnyele Foundation and Amsterdam Art Weekend. With many thanks to Bram Hartzema and three
anonymous sponsors.
On-Trade-Off is an initiative of Enough Room for Space (Brussels, BE) and Picha (Lubumbashi, DRC).
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), Musasa (DRC), Georges Senga (NL/DRC), Daddy Tshikaya (DRC) and Maarten Vanden Eynde (BE)
Text The artists, Lia Gieling and Wytske Visser
Interview artists (only online) Ellis Kat, see and
Translation Helena Julian
Producer On-Trade-Off Katrien Reist and Julia Reist, arp: Brussels
Project assistant Cargo in Context Marleen Schans
Graphic design Vanessa van Dam
Print Gazelle, Deurne, Belgium

Cargo in Context
Haparandadam 7, 1013 AK Amsterdam
(De Bonte Zwaan, Houthaven)
contact Lia Gieling; – 
Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond
Nes 45, 1012 KD Amsterdam / 020–6 22 90 14

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