EXTR-Activism. Decolonising Space Mining

12.05 – 25.06.2023, INDECIS artist run space, Timișoara

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.

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.

For further reading:
EXTR-Activism: De-colonising space mining​​​​​​​
Article by Saskia Vermeylen on WUK magazine

New Space Law Manifesto
13.05.2023, 11:00, INDECIS artist run space, Timișoara

On Saturday, curator Saskia Vermeylen will talk about the concept of the EXTR-Activism exhibition and give a guided tour accompanied by an introduction to space law, a fascinating and complex area of international law that governs human activities in outer space. Space law addresses a wide range of legal issues, including the use and exploration of outer space, the liability for damages caused by space activities, the protection of the space environment, and the sharing of benefits from space exploration. An ever-evolving field that is crucial for the peaceful and sustainable development of space activities.

Join us for a morning of fascinating insights, followed by a delicious brunch on our terrace by our friend Delikat Essen.

Saskia Vermeylen, PhD is a reader in law at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. Her research focuses on space law and speculative jurisprudence. She was awarded a Leverhulme fellowship to study space law from an arts and humanities perspective and she has done archival work in the Rauschenberg archive (New York) on the Stoned Moon Series. She has worked for more than 20 years as a legal anthropologist in Southern Africa and has published widely on Afrofuturism and space law. She also curated a major exhibition on space law and extractivism at the WUK in Vienna and will curate together with the South African artist Luke Kaplan another exhibition In July on photography and living law at the International Arts Festival in Makhanda, South Africa. She is currently co-writing with C.F. Black a monograph on storying space law.

The project is part of the Cultural Program “Timișoara 2023 – European Capital of Culture” and is funded by the Timișoara Municipality through the Project Center, BRD Groupe Société Générale and Indecis artist run.