Tactics & Practice #12:
New Extractivism

Exhibitions | Artist talks | Workshops | Publications
January–June 2022
Various locations

Curated by
Janez Fakin Janša

Part of the Tactics & Practice series


In the information age, everything becomes a potential frontier for expansion and extraction – from the depths of the DNA code to the vast frontiers of human emotions, behaviour and social relationships, and nature as a whole.
— Vladan Joler

Tactics & Practice, the discursive cultural programme dedicated to contemporary investigative art, society and new technologies that has been held regularly in Ljubljana since 2010, this year brings together the efforts and resources of various local institutions to offer a transdisciplinary programme focused on the theme “New Extractivism”.

In economics, the term “extractivism” is used to describe a model based on the extraction of natural resources – from minerals to metals and fossil fuels – from the Earth, to then sell on the global market. More recently, the terms “neo-extractivism” (Hans-Jürgen Burchardt, Kristina Dietz 2014) or “New Extractivism” (Henry Veltmeyer, James Petras 2014) emerged to describe how the model of extractivism has been deployed in the neo-colonial context of neo-liberal economies, where the extractive industry has developed into a specific growth-oriented development path, with a global regulation of the allotment of resources and their revenues, and a promise of growth and welfare for the countries where extraction occurs that is largely betrayed. 

In their book The Politics of Operations: Excavating Contemporary Capitalism (Duke University Press, 2019), scholars Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson focus on the relationship between different forms of extractive operations in contemporary capitalism and show how extractivism has been applied not just to the exploitation of natural resources but also humans, labour, data and cultures. Drawing from here, since 2019, artist and researcher Vladan Joler has been using the term “New Extractivism” in the context of contemporary techno-capitalism to portray a form of extractivism that reaches into the furthest corners of the biosphere and the deepest layers of human cognitive and affective being. Based on the enclosure of biodiversity and knowledge and the privatization of cultural commons, the New Extractivism occurs when different fields of human knowing, feeling, action and every form of biodata – including forensic, biometric, sociometric and psychometric – are regarded as raw materials, a new gold to be excavated and used to feed databases for machine learning and AI training. 

This is the starting point of the twelfth edition of Tactics & Practice, which opens on 19 January with a “warm-up” event at the Aksioma Project Space in Ljubljana: the presentation of The Hidden Life of an Amazon User, a web-based project by artist and researcher Joana Moll that sheds light on Amazon’s often unacknowledged but aggressive exploitation of its users, both through free labour and by forcing them to bear the energetic costs of this exploitation, which is embedded at the core of the business strategies of so-called internet companies.

On 16 February, the Catalan artist will be in Ljubljana for the launch of the first of four sub-clusters that make up the entire initiative, each of which consists of a solo exhibition at the Aksioma project Space, an artist talk at the Cukrarna Gallery, a workshop at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design and the publication of a new essay for the PostScriptUM series.

This first sub-cluster is of particular relevance, as it hosts the world premiere of Carbolytics, Joana Moll’s latest artistic-investigative project is commissioned by Aksioma as part of the konS ≡ Platform for Investigative Contemporary Art and developed in collaboration with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) and in partnership with the Sónar festival (ES). For this work, the BSC calculated the number of tracking cookies present within the world’s top 1 million websites and the average energy consumption attributable to them. The project therefore provides a new perspective to address the social and environmental costs of pervasive surveillance by exploring strategies to increase public awareness of the environmental impact of data collection.

In March, the programme continues with academic, researcher and artist Vladan Joler, internationally recognised for his research on the current platform economy, who will present his most recent work, the mapping project New Extractivism, a titanic effort to delineate the social, environmental, economic and political impacts of an extractivist economy that traps all of us in the cage of social media to capitalise on our data, exploited as a last resort.

In April, the programme continues with the DISNOVATION.ORG collective and Post Growth, their speculative art and research project that challenges the dominant narratives about growth and progress in an effort to dismantle the capitalist myth of permanent growth and to propose practical strategies for living on Earth in a post-growth and post-extractive scenario.

The last block of activities will take place between May and June and is built around Software for Less, an exhibition that brings together a series of works by US-based artist Ben Grosser that critically question the growth-obsessed business culture of Silicon Valley which has shaped the ideology of “more” that runs the software that enables the information society.

More

The Hidden Life of an Amazon User
EXHIBITION
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana
19 January–11 February 2022

Carbolytics
EXHIBITION
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana
16 February–11 March 2022
Opening day: 16 February 2022, 12–9 PM

Data Extraction, Materiality and Agency
ARTIST TALK
Cukrarna, Ljubljana
16 February 2022 at 7 PM

The Hidden Life of a Browser
WORKSHOP
ALUO, Ljubljana
16–17 February 2022, 2–5 PM

Matthew Fuller
Analysis, Exposure and Addition: The Aesthetic and Ecological Logics of Joana Moll’s Carbolytics
PUBLICATION
PostScriptUM #40
Release: 16 February 2022

More

New Extractivism
EXHIBITION
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana
16 March–15 April 2022
Opening: 16 March 2022, 12–9 PM

Dissecting New Extractivism

ARTIST TALK
Cukrarna, Ljubljana
16 March 2022 at 7 PM

Anatomies of a Black Box
WORKSHOP
ALUO, Ljubljana
16 March 2022, 2–5 PM

Felix Stalder
Escape Velocity. Computing and the Great Acceleration
PUBLICATION
PostScriptUM #41
Release: 16 March 2022

More

Life Support System
EXHIBITION
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana
20 April–20 May 2022
Opening: 20 April 2022, 8 PM

Post Growth
ARTIST TALK
Cukrarna, Ljubljana
20 April 2022 at 7 PM

Post Growth Toolkit (The Game)
WORKSHOP
ALUO, Ljubljana
20 April 2022, 2–5 PM

PUBLICATION
PostScriptUM #42
Interview by Clémence Seurat, Dusan Kazic
Release: 20 April 2022

More

Software for Less
EXHIBITION
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana
25 May–24 June 2022
Opening: 16 May 2022, 8 PM

Less Metrics, More Rando: Techniques of Resistance in a Platform World
ARTIST TALK
Cukrarna, Ljubljana
25 May 2022 at 7 PM

Recomposing the Web: Tools and Techniques to Regain Agency in a Software-Driven World
WORKSHOP
ALUO, Ljubljana
25 May 2022, 2–5 PM

PUBLICATION
PostScriptUM #43
Release: 25 May 2022

CREDITS

Curated by: Janez Fakin Janša

Production:
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2022

In collaboration with:
ALUO – The Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana
MGML / Cukrarna Gallery

The exhibitions, lectures and publications are supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana

The new commission Carbolytics and the workshops by Joana Moll, Disnovation.org and Ben Grosser are produced in the frame of the konS:: Platform for Contemporary Investigative Art, which was chosen on the public call for the selection of the operations “Network of Investigative Art and Culture Centres”. The investment is co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union.

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