EXTR-Activism presents artistic positions that challenge the new commercial space race for mineral extractivism. The artworks selected for this exhibition explore the notions of extractivism and neo-colonialism of the commercial space era against the background of African countries developing their own space programme. The exhibition retells the story of extractivism and space travel from the perspective of Afronauts. The forgotten histories, contested legacies and repressed memories of space travel are explored through a plethora of art practices that seek to blur the boundaries and distinctions between fiction and reality.
The visitor boards a pan-African spaceship, sending Afronauts to Mars with the task to stop Lunar and Martian colonialism and extractivism. During the voyage, Afronauts rewrite the history and future of space exploration and give birth to a Pan-African space law manifesto that halts the exploitation of humans, non-humans and more-than-humans. The reimagining happens by exploring the future through an alternative past – what if the first person on the Moon was a Kenyan female, how would space law and governing of mineral resources evolve in the commercial space race?
After the immersive experience of travelling on board of the pan-African spaceship, visitors have a chance to redraft space law, reflecting on the new challenges space law is facing and considering the entangled history of colonialism and extractivism on Earth. The commercial space race is doomed if we do not take responsibility for the environmental mess we have created on this planet and find ways to create a socio-economic and legal-political regime which shares the benefits of space exploration in a fair and equitable manner. The idea of protecting outer space for the benefits of all humankind still sounds noble, but we may have to rethink the meaning of humanity and open a debate about the kind of benefits we would like to achieve when embarking on this new interplanetary journey.
Curated by Saskia Vermeylen
Artists: Vlad Cadar, Michelle Clarke, Pippa Goldschmidt, Craig Jones, Ellen Levy, Ralo Mayer, Dylan McGarry, Jacque Njere, Sergiu Sas, Matjaž Vidmar, and Beep Wellington.