Extractivism / Activism

13 and 14 March 2024

Past Event
in partnership with Paul Mellon Centre

The arts have long been concerned with highlighting the ongoing histories of resource extraction and its repercussions. This two-day symposium asks: what happens next?


past event

This event is now closed. View our current events here

ABOUT THE conference

The arts have long been concerned with highlighting the ongoing histories of resource extraction and its repercussions. This event brings together researchers, artists, designers and activists from a range of backgrounds to consider local projects in intersectional, granular detail. Collectively, we will reevaluate the relationship between the arts, extraction and activism - both historically and in the present.

The symposium will be structured into three interrelated strands:

Colonial and extractive histories: How are long-standing systems of racial capitalism and colonial oppression linked to the current financialisation of nature (using nature for profit maximisation)? What alternatives to these exploitive structures can be imagined, tested and shared in the arts?

Reparative and fragile ecologies: Reparations for ecological collapse and environmental loss cannot be simply about financial compensation but must include broader systemic changes. What can reparative ecologies look like? How can they be mobilised?

Environmental justice and legal rights: What roles can the arts play in enacting environmental justice? Can the arts inform and participate in policymaking on topics such as the rights of communities affected by ecocide and extractive capitalism, the rights of nature and the rights of future generations? And how might that intersect with calls to abolish or radically reimagine existing legal and justice systems?

We will update this page in the coming weeks with the full conference schedule, timings and access information. If you have any questions, get in touch at

This symposium is convened by Sria Chatterjee (Paul Mellon Centre), Mark Sealy (Autograph) and Bindi Vora (Autograph).

part of the project

Climate & Colonialism

A project led by Paul Mellon Centre, providing a testing ground for transhistorical conversations and collaborations between art historians, artists and other scholarly and community groups thinking critically about the interconnected and enduring histories of colonialism, capitalism and climate change.

Find out more

Wednesday 13 March

10:00 - 10:30am
Registration and coffee
10:30 - 10:45am
Welcome and introductions with Sria Chatterjee (Paul Mellon Centre)

Locating Environmental Justice
Chair: Ravi Agarwal (artist, writer, curator and environmental campaigner)

10:45 - 10:55am
Untamable Dankini (online)
Sheelasha Rajbhandari (artist and curator)
10:55 - 11:05am
What Do the Spirits of These Lands, Rivers, Forests Whisper in Our Ears? (online)
HitMan Gurung (artist and curator)
11:05 - 11:15am
Split Bananas and Magical Spaces
Syowia Kyambi (artist and curator)
11:15 - 11:30am
Sahar Qawasmi (Sakiya)
11:30 - 11:50am
11:50am - 12:15pm
Coffee break (provided)

Imaging Extraction
Chair: Sria Chatterjee (Paul Mellon Centre)

12:15 - 12:25pm
'See Britain First on Shell’: Modernism, Imperialism and the British Petroleum Industry
Tobah Aukland-Peck (CUNY Graduate Center)
12:25 - 12:35pm
Fuelling Foment: (Counter)colonial Histories of Phosphate Extraction in Tunisia
Nancy Demerdash (Albion College)
12:35 - 12:45pm
Undergrounding the Critical Mineral
FRAUD, Audrey Samson and Francisco Gallardo (artist duo)
12:45 - 12:55pm
Phosphate Mines and Resistance Gardens in Western Sahara
Crystal Bennes (visual artist)
12:55 - 1:15pm
1:15 - 2:30pm
Lunch break (provided)

Bindi Vora (Autograph)

2:30 - 2:50pm
Gerald Torres (Yale University) (online)
2:50 - 3:00pm
3:00 - 3:15pm
Performative lecture - Reparative Interventions: Renegotiating Archive, Memory and Place
Sasha Huber (visual artist researcher)
3:15 - 3:30pm
Ngurrara II
Adrian Lahoud (Royal College of Art)
3:30 - 3:45pm
3:45 - 4:15pm
Coffee break

Ecology Politics
Chair: Mark Sealy (Autograph)

4:15 - 4:30pm
Blazing Century 1: Working at the Intersection of Extractive Capitalism/Visual Activism
Wilfred Ukpong (interdisciplinary artist, practice-based researcher – Blazing Century Studios)
4:30 - 4:50pm
Mark Sealy and Wilfred Ukpong in conversation
4:50 - 5:00pm
Closing remarks
5:00 - 6:00pm
Drinks reception at Building Centre

Thursday 14 March

10:30 - 11:00am
Registration and coffee
11:00 - 11:10am
Welcome and introductions with Bindi Vora (Autograph)

Forest Rights
Chair: Ravi Agarwal (artist, writer, curator and environmental campaigner)

11:10 - 11:25am
Footprints in the Valley
Eline Benjaminsen (artist) and Elias Kimaiyo (land rights activist)
11:25 - 11:35am
Forests of Memory: Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Claim Making in India
Rahul Ranjan (University of Edinburgh)
11:35 - 11:45am
11:45am - 12:00pm
Comfort break 

Ancestral Futures
Chair: Nina Kolowratnik (Ghent University)

12:00 - 12:20pm
Film screening and discussion of From Mars to Venus: Activism of the Future
Ignacio Acosta (Royal College of Art / Uppsala University)
12:20 - 12:30pm
The Puna Is Not a Triangle: Militant Research and Anti-extractivism
Godofredo Pereira (Royal College of Art)
12:30 - 12:40pm
Art As Catalyst: Exploring the Fragility and Activism Through ‘We Live Like Trees Inside the Footsteps of our Ancestors’
Gabriela Saenger Silva (Liverpool John Moores University)
12:40 - 1:00pm
1:00 - 2:30pm
Lunch break (provided)

Litigation / Climate Crimes
Chair: Jelena Sofronijevic (producer, writer and researcher)

2:30 - 2:40pm
Black Ecofeminism in Court: Litigating for Climate Justice and Reparations
Marie Petersmann (London School of Economics)
2:40 - 2:55pm
Legal Imaginaries Beyond Extraction: Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes
Radha D’Souza (lawyer, academic, writer and activist) and Jonas Staal (artist and propaganda researcher)
2:55 - 3:15pm
3:15 - 3:25pm
Performance - The Wanderer
Marie Smith (visual artist/Kingston University)
3:25 - 3:40pm
Comfort break

Data Ecologies
Chair: Stephanie Hankey (Curator and Co-founder, Tactical Tech)

3:40 - 3:50pm
Film screening of U K'ux Kaj / Heart of Sky, Mayan God of Storms
Mónica Alcázar-Duarte (artist)
3:50 - 4:00pm
Respondent: Julian Posada (Yale University)
4:00 - 4:15pm
Mónica Alcázar-Duarte and Julian Posada in conversation
4:15 - 4:30pm
Final remarks
6:00 - 9:00pm
Self-led visit to Autograph to view Wilfred Ukpong: Future-Cosmos/Niger-Delta and Mónica Alcázar-Duarte: Digital Clouds Don’t Carry Rain
There will be a fifteen-minute introduction to the exhibition by Autograph staff at 6.30pm

Accessibility at the conference

Joining us in person? The Building Centre has level entry, accessible toilets, a low level reception desk without barriers, and induction loops. Assistance animals are welcome.For full visiting and access information, click here.

Accessibility online


The livestream will have auto-generated captioning.

Request BSL

If you would like BSL interpretation, please contact us at least 2 weeks prior to the conference.

part of the exhibitions

Wilfred Ukpong: Niger-Delta / Future-Cosmos

16 February – 1 June at Autograph, London
Visual meditations on the environmental crisis in the Niger Delta

Read more

Mónica Alcázar-Duarte: Digital Clouds Don't Carry Rain

16 February – 1 June at Autograph, London
Interweaving indigenous knowledge, colonial legacy and ecological urgency

Read more

how to book tickets

Extractivism/Activism will take place over two days: Wednesday 13 March and Thursday 14 March. Tickets are available separately for each day of the conference, both in person and online. If you would like to attend the full, two-day event, you must book a separate ticket for each day.

Ticketing Policy

If you need to cancel your ticket for any reason, you can receive a refund up to 1 week before the start of the conference. You do not need to bring your paper ticket to the event.

in partnership with

Banner image: Wilfred Ukpong, By And by, I Will Carry This Burden of Hope, Till the Laments of my Child is Heard #2, 2017. From the series Blazing Century 1: Niger-Delta/Future-Cosmos. Courtesy of the artist and Blazing Century Studios. About the project: Mónica Alcázar-Duarte, Itzamná - Mayan Time deity, 2021. From the series Digital Clouds Don’t Carry Rain. Courtesy the artist.
Part of the exhibitions: 1) Wilfred Ukpong, Strongly, We Believe In the Power of this Motile Thing That Will Take Us There #2, 2017. From the series Blazing Century 1: Niger-Delta/Future-Cosmos. Courtesy of the artist and Blazing Century Studios. 2) Mónica Alcázar-Duarte, Ixchel - Mayan Moon and Birth deity, 2021. From the series Digital Clouds Don’t Carry Rain. © and courtesy the artist.
Accessibility: The Building Centre, May 2022 by Chris Jackson. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.