Ignacio Acosta is a Chilean-born, London-based artist and researcher working in places made vulnerable through the exploitation of ecologies by colonial intervention and intensive capitalisation. He works with interconnected research projects that involve extensive fieldwork, investigative analysis, audio-visual documentation, and critical writing on sites and materials of symbolic significance. Acosta focuses upon resistance to extractivist industrial impact on valuable natural environments and, through technologies of seeing, develops work towards the generation of meaningful visual and spatial narratives. His interventions position geological and technological forms, as well as human and non-human relationships, in the same landscape. Situated within the urgent need for artistic approaches to critically address the depleting landscapes created by mining, Acosta’s work creatively negotiates the conflicts buried within our living world.
Over the last ten years, he has been devoted to the understanding of sites and landscapes that, although often neglected, are of global significance: places under pressure from extractive industries in South America and northern Europe. His most recent works explore the possibilities of drone technologies as tools of resistance within the struggle for decolonisation. Drones are best known for their role in military surveillance; by artistically appropriating these machines, Acosta offers new ways of seeing ecology and counter-action on a planetary scale. Strategic juxtapositions are a key feature of his work – both ideologically, and aesthetically in his visually complex pieces. Yet it is the research practice that underpins his artistic work. Through thorough, investigative and ethical practices, his methodology is akin to a forensic investigator in his desire to uncover and expose highly ambivalent power dynamics. Moreover, the multiple layers that comprise his individual research process contribute to larger, vibrant collaborations with activists, artists, scientists, writers and Indigenous Peoples. Collaboration is a particularly important, indeed essential, part of his investigation and the representation of sites in which he works. His research is distributed through exhibitions, public events, publications and online platforms. At a time of uncertain futures, Acosta’s presentations remain open-ended and can be used as source for education, activism and visual culture.
Recent exhibitions include: Archaeology of Sacrifice, Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen, Germany (2020); Human Nature, Västerbottens Museum, Sweden (2020); Tales from the Crust, Arts Catalyst, London, England (2019); Drones y Tambores, Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, Santiago, Chile (2019); Litte ja Goabddá; Ájtte Museum, Jokkmokk, Sweden (2019); Tierra, CDAN / Centro de Arte y Naturaleza, Huesca, Spain (2019); Game of Drones, Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen, Germany (2019); Drone Vision, Hasselblad Centre, Göteborg, Sweden (2018); Mapping Domeyko, Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art, Poland (2018); Copper Geographies, National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, England (2017); Traffiking the Earth, MAC, Museo Arte Contemporáneo, Chile (2017).
Between 2012 and 2016, he undertook a practice-based PhD at the University of Brighton, UK, as part of Traces of Nitrate: Mining History and Photography between Britain and Chile a research project developed in collaboration with Art and Design Historian Louise Purbrick and photographer Xavier Ribas, which has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). In 2018, the publication that stems from his PhD Copper Geographies was published by Editorial RM. In 2017, he received a Research and Development Award and a Project Realisation Award from the Hasselblad Foundation / Valand Academy, Sweden, as part of the Drone Vision: Surveillance, Warfare, Protest project led by Dr Sarah Tuck. In 2019, he received an Award from the Arts Council England and in 2020, the ZF Art Foundation Scholarship.