12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art

Messy Glossary




Proposed by Christopher Wierling

Everting earth: moles, worms, and microorganisms wade through, ingest, and create the complex compound called soil. But extractive economies do not care for life underground. The toxic material legacies of capital accumulation aka white generational wealth pollute grounds, waters, bloodstreams, and lungs with heavy metals and mineral dusts. To think of the mine as one of modernity’s spaces of organized violence and forced labor – fueled by and feeding off the genocidal displacement and exploitation of Black and Indigenous lives – requires careful consideration of mines, factories, camps, plantations within their specific local and historical involvements and differences. It also calls to investigate the ways in which their violent techniques have informed each other.
Surface-level digging brings up the same essentialist categories, dehistoricized fossils from times allegedly preceding memory, that fuck everyone over again and again. Nevertheless, a glossary entry only allows for a few scratches: claws, picks, shovels. Excavation sites, skeletons, museums. Property. Myths of adventurous treasure hunts, centuries of colonization and enslavement. Miners’ strikes. Pipelines, conveyor belts, airplane tanks (sabotage). Rare earths form in/tangible links between infrastructures of knowledge production and the lethal labor of the subterranean subalterns. Screens, batteries. Deforested and extinct. Swallowed places. Cryptocurrencies. To be buried alive.

Proposed by Vladen Joler

(New Extractivism)

In the information age, everything becomes a potential frontier for expansion and extraction—from the depth of DNA code in every single cell of the human organism, to vast frontiers of human emotions, behavior, and social relations, to nature as a whole. At this moment in the 21st century, we see a new form of extractivism that is well underway: thousands of corporate and government actors compete to win the territories of our behavioral, emotional, and cognitive landscapes. Once the territory is invaded, the process of enclosure and exploitation is established.

Source: Glossary Open Secret