Ignacio Acosta is an artist and researcher working with photography and video in territories under pressure from extractive industries. His multi-layered collaborative practice and spatial installations seek to connect audiences with these complex but critical concerns.
Acosta works in places made vulnerable through the exploitation of ecologies by colonial intervention and intensive capitalisation. He is devoted to the understanding of sites and landscapes that, although often neglected, are of global significance. His projects focus upon resistance to mining on valuable natural environments and, through technologies of seeing, he develops work towards the generation of meaningful visual and spatial narratives.
His interconnected research strands and projects – many of which span several years – involve extensive fieldwork, investigative analysis, audio-visual documentation, and critical writing on sites and materials of symbolic significance. The artist's interventions positions 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, his work creatively negotiates the conflicts buried within our living world.
His work explores the possibilities of drone technologies – and most recently camera traps – 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 practice.
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, his presentations remain open-ended and can be used as source for education, activism and visual culture.
Recent exhibitions include: Into the Deep: Mines of the Future, Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen, Germany (2023); Sacré Mormont, Palais de la Rumine, Lausanne, Switzerland (2023); All That Is Solid Melts Into Water, Kunsthalle Oslo, Norway (2023); Ewiges Eis (Eternal Ice), Paisaje | Experiencia | Producción: Fotografía y Territorios Productivos en Chile (2000-2020), MAC, Santiago, Chile (2023); Mining Photography, Kunst Haus Wien, Austria (2023); Inverting the Monolith, MBAL, Switzerland (2022); Museum Sinclair-Haus in Bad-Homburg, Germany (2022); Mining Photography Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Germany (2022); 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, Acosta 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.
Acosta is currently a Research Associate at the Royal College of Arts (RCA), London as part of the Solid Water, Frozen Time, Future Justice: Photography and Mining in the Andean Glaciers (2021-2024), a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 3-year collaborative visual research project with Louise Purbrick and Xavier Ribas. Their project documents the effects of copper and lithium mining on glacier systems of the Chilean Andes .
He is also a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism (CEMFOR) Uppsala University, Sweden where le leads a 4-year visual research project Indigenous perspectives on forest fires, drought and climate change: Sápmi (2022-2026), a FORMAS (Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development) funded visual research project developed with Sámi scholar May-Britt Öhman (post-doctoral supervisor) and Sámi journalist Liz-Marie Nilsen (research assistant). The project brings forward Indigenous/Sámi knowleges on forest fires, drought and climate change.