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Inverting the Monolith (2019-2022)

Inverting the Monolith is a multi-channel video installation by Ignacio Acosta, which expands on the artist’s research into extractive capitalism and ecological exploitation. It focuses on the mining exploration happening in close proximity to Chile’s Parque Andino Juncal, centring the voices of local activists who are working to expose the adverse impacts these activities are having in this area of global ecological significance.

Parque Andino Juncal is a privately owned, protected area in Chile’s central zone, located in the Andean Mountains, where altitudes reach 5,000 metres above sea level. Embedded within this staggering landscape is a vital hydric network of glaciers, rivers, streams, Andean vegas, and underground springs. Unique in South America, the area has been recognised as a site of international importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and is regarded as an endangered ecosystem.

Under the military dictatorship of Pinochet (1973-1990), a mining law was passed which separated land ownership from the mineral resources beneath the Earth’s surface. The ‘Codigo Minero’ thus enables concession owners to mine or ‘explore’, while bypassing the wishes of the surface property owners. The sites of these ecological violations are marked with mining monoliths or survey monuments — pyramidal structures made of concrete and stone that define the territory.

Inverting the Monolith aims to draw attention to the chasms this kind of exploration the U.S.-financed mining exploration company Nutrex US leaves behind, and its adverse effects on the glacial ecology of the park – such as the creation of dams that pose a major threat to the water network. It aims to ‘excavate’ and highlight the unseen – both the covert mining activities that violate local land laws, and the surveillance work conducted by activists aiming to expose these illegal pursuits, using drones and camera traps.

Images from the camera traps are intermingled with material recorded by activists, such as phone footage, which together creates a visual dialogue and multimedia narrative chronicling the progress of mining exploration in the area. The monitoring and documentation of fauna forms part of a wider strategy to contest the mining threat and show the value of conservation within this high-value ecosystem.

Inverting the Monolith was commissioned as part of the exhibition Ewiges Eis (Eternal Ice) – featuring works by 19 artists who are exploring the deep interdependencies between humans and nature in the world’s cold regions — on view at Museum Sinclair-Haus in Bad-Homburg, Germany 25.09.2022– 12.02.2023. The video will be displayed at Musée des beaux-arts (MBAL) in Le Locle, Switzerland 22.10.22 – 26.02.23.

The project was developed in collaboration with video editor Lara Garcia Reyne, environmentalist Tomás Dinges, and sound designers Gregorio Fontén and Udit Duseja. It includes contributions from local activists Martín Sapaj-Aguilera, Guillermo Sapaj-Aguilera, Denisse Contreras, Felipe Ignacio Maldonado, Rodrigo Aguilera.

Inverting the Monolith is part of Solid Water, Frozen Time, Future Justice , a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) collaborative project with Louise Purbrick and Xavier Ribas, based at the Royal College of Arts and the University of Brighton; in partnership with Parque Andino Juncal, and in copperation with Alianza Gato Andino, Big Andes and Guardianxs del Akunkawa.

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Link to Museun Sinclair Haus
Link to MBAL

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Link to Teaser

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Link to Parque Andino Juncal
Link to Guardinxs del Akunkawa
Link to Big Andes
Link to Alianza Gato Andino

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Link to Frozen Future

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About the Author

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Im a Chilean born, London based visual artist and researcher.

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