How can we understand extraction beyond the removal and displacement of minerals – to encompass policies, international treaties and regulations that impose controversial forms of stewardship of natural resources on communities?
is an artist led inquiry into the extractive gaze of European institutions and policies, commissioned by Arts Catalyst and Radar
. Initiated in 2018 in collaboration with scholar and media practitioner Btihaj Ajana (King’s College London), the project seeks to make visible the many entangled modes of extraction that Europe enacts on third countries*: through the establishment of Free Trade Zones, fisheries partnerships agreements, and investment stratagems.
Over the past two years EURO—VISION has evolved through multiple phases, comprising: fieldwork in Morocco; a residency and public programme at Arts Catalyst and at Radar Loughborough; a public presentation at Istanbul Design Biennial.
The project will culminate with the launch of a web platform, which will act as a resource that reveals and mobilises EURO—VISION’s multilayered body of research developed in conversation with academics, economists, lawyers, activists and journalists. Their voices, insights and knowledge will emerge through video interviews, treaties and documents, as well as a public programme of conversations in the form of podcasts, online workshops, and a series of policy recommendations. The web platform will launch 10 March, 2021.
For this phase in the EURO—VISION project, the artists are exploring how the risk associated with the supply of Critical Raw Materials (CRM) is unevenly shaping international relations while perpetuating colonial legacies in the Global South.
Critical Raw Materials are minerals used in environmental technologies, consumer electronics, health, steel-making, defence, space exploration, and aviation.
Governments worldwide have begun to identify critical resources on the basis of their supply risk and economic importance. These parameters dictate national policies for securing access to these materials: the European Commission for instance adopted the Raw Materials Initiative, which lists 30 critical raw materials. The list validates and mobilises policies related to access and use of resources such as Lithium and Titanium, Cobalt, Natural Rubber, and Phosphate rock.
FRAUD provocatively propose to challenge what is now considered a critical material to include sand, fish(eries) and labour, as they represent crucial entities and resources that are legally and illegally being dug, removed and displaced. This expanded framework enables the artists to look beyond these extractive practices to the possibility of thinking and doing *otherwise*.
More information about the proposed materials the project focuses on are detailed below: sand, fisheries, phosphate and labour.
FRAUD have been exploring the links between tourism and extraction. In Western Sahara, sand is illegally mined and used to adorn tourist beaches of the Canary Islands. The relationship between Spain, Morocco and Western Sahara are historically complex to unearth, where extractive operations, archaeological evidence, and tourism-led development have been used as propaganda tools since Spain's Francoist Regime. In the Franco era for instance the traditional Canarian vessels called gánigo were believed to be relatives of Saharan ceramics, as a way to validate the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco and Western Sahara. As part of the project, the artists have produced replicas of such vessels using sand melted into glass. This work is titled Jable Pardo - Viele Grüße aus Canaria and available to jablepardo.tours
Marine resources are in a state of global collapse. In 2016, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization declared 89.05% of global fish stocks to be either fully fished or overfished. In parallel, due to overexploitation in coastal waters at home, the European Union negotiated Fisheries Partnership Agreements (FPAs) with third countries. These agreements have devastating impacts upon ‘extra-Mediterranean’ marine life, leading in many cases to the exhaustion of fish stocks, and the loss of local fisheries and traditional knowledge. Is it possible for these ‘partnerships’ to exist ethically and sustainably? How can they be cultivated on the basis of an ecological and decolonial approach that breaks away from a purely extractivist mindset?
Listed in the EU Critical Raw Materials
list, phosphate rock is a finite, non-manufacturable resource whose global demand was pushed by the Green Revolution’s crave for synthetic fertiliser. It is now a resource critical for the normal operation of agrobusiness. 71% of the world’s phosphate fertiliser comes from Western Sahara, mostly from the Bou Craa mine. Western Sahara was occupied by Morocco in 1975, immediately after gaining independence from Spain. Franco's regime sold its occupied territories for fisheries rights and phosphate operations in the Bou Craa mines. The dependency on this mineral is thus tightly embroiled with the (im)possibility of self-determination for the Saharawi people, who have largely lived as displaced peoples in exile, in camps along the Algerian border since 1975.
European colonial legacy in Northern Africa continues today through extractive practices and free trade. Even though borders are vigorously reinforced internationally, free trade deals are proliferating and being negotiated with even greater fervour. While the flow of goods is encouraged, freedom of movement is rapidly revoked and violently enforced. Are trade and migration policy intrinsically linked? And if so, how are they mobilising each other?
EURO—VISION investigates how extraction, trade and migration are related through Free Trade Zones and Time Zones. Free Trade Zones (FTZ) are zones of economic exception, in which companies (mostly European) receive benefits unauthorised elsewhere. Often these come in the form of relaxed regulations regarding environmental and labour protection and null or very low tax rates for export. Stay tuned for the inauguration of our own time zone!...
* A third country is a country that is not a member of the European Union as well as a country or territory whose citizens do not enjoy the European Union right to free movement.
FURTHER INFORMATION & RESOURCES
The programme of events is listed on the left-hand side of this page.
As part of EURO—VISION
, FRAUD will present a series of posts on Instagram in the run up to and during the project launch. Follow us via @artscatalyst.
In tandem with the platform launch, FRAUD have created a publication bringing together research around the project in a downloadable PDF, available to view here.
EURO—VISION has been commissioned by Arts Catalyst and Radar, developed in co-collaboration with the Istanbul Design Biennial, and has been made possible by funding from Arts Council England, Canada Arts Council and Accion Cultural. EURO—VISION, or the Making of the Automated Gaze was supported by the Cultural Institute at King's in partnership with Somerset House Studios.