This fall’s major exhibition at Kunsthall Trondheim, Rivers of Emotion, Bodies of Ore, deals with the notion of extractivism – from the foundations in the 17th century of Trondheim’s prosperity through copper mining, until today’s many ways of extracting information, knowledge and emotions through social media and other digital communication. The exhibition, which has been curated by Lisa Rosendahl, presents works by Lise Autogena & Joshua Portway, David Blandy, Liv Bugge, Sean Dockray, Bodil Furu, Marianne Heier, Louis Henderson, Lawrence Lek, Hanna Ljungh, Rikke Luther, Ignas Krunglevičius, Eline McGeorge, Karianne Stensland and Anja Örn, Tomas Örn & Fanny Carinasdotter.
A publication with newly written essays by Johanna Dahlin & Martin Fredriksson, Sean Dockray, Mats Ingulstad & Pål Thonstad Sandvik, Jan M. Padios and Lisa Rosendahl will be published in early November.
Extraction is a phenomenon commonly associated with fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, or with the mining of metals and minerals. In the digital era, the notion of extraction has expanded even further, to also include data- and virtual currency mining as well as the commodification of human emotions and behaviours through social media. In the 21st century, the extractive paradigm seems to be without bounds: the mining of previously unreachable territories such as the deep-sea floor and celestial bodies is fast becoming a reality, all the while the streams of data we leave behind while conducting our everyday lives are being captured, mapped and profited from, commodifying even the most intimate aspects of our minds and bodies.
The exhibition in Trondheim places contemporary artworks and historical materials in dialogue with each other, making the kunsthall into a site of intersectional exploration of the paradigm of extraction. Trondheim’s history of copper mining is used as a starting point for tracing a wider web of actual connections and speculative associations spanning different geographical, digital and emotional realms. Through conflating the exploitation of the Earth with that of the human mind and body, or comparing the actual materiality of digital hardware with the promise of the immaterial experience it seduces us with, the art works offer multiple entry points into the phenomena of extraction and its far-reaching consequences.
The exhibition also prompts its audiences to consider a future scenario: in a thousand years from now, when both Earth and human consciousness might have been depleted of their resources, will today’s artworks be the only remaining fossils bearing witness to the emotional landscapes once inhabited by humans?
Thanks to OCA – Office of Contemporary Art Norway, Seventeen Gallery London, The Regional State Archives in Trondheim, Røros Museum and Curator Tone Rygg, Orkla Industrial Museum, Geological Survey of Norway.
NTNU, Norwegian University of Science and Technology: The NTNU University Museum and Professor Lars Fredrik Stenvik, Hanna Musiol (Associate Professor, Department of Language and Literature), Kurt Aasly (Associate Professor, Department of Geoscience and Petroleum), Ida Bull (Professor Emerita, Department of Historical Studies), Lars F. Stenvik (Professor, Department of Archaeology and Cultural History) and Anette Abelsen, Oda Pareliussen Austnes and Stine Bekkos (students at NTNU).