• Akademie der Künste / Hanseatenweg / Studio
Planetary Portals: Diamond Power

with Casper Laing Ebbensgaard, Kathryn Yusoff, Kerry Holden, Michael Salu

Moderated by Helen Pritchard

  • Lecture Performance
Passes only
Planetary Portals: Diamond Power

Mapping how ‘diabolical architectures’ of colonial materialism hold open Africa as a continent for extraction, Kathryn Yusoff, Kerry Holden, Casper Laing Ebbensgaard, and Michael Salu explore how this legacy of infrastructural space and imaginary practices continues today. Based on their research in the Rhodes archives, their collaborative work responds to the erosion of histories that underwrote the territorial advance of imperial greed. The European dream of a portal to expand time and space, imagined at a continental scale, placed Africa into a vortex of racial debt relations and extraction. This planetary portal, with its emancipatory promises of transformation of the African continent rising, from speculative finance to material infrastructures continues in the present. Attending to the relation between the mine and the organisation of calculative life in the recursive tail of race and colonialism, Planetary Portals considers colonialism as an ongoing present. Diving into the time-space praxis of colonial history and the on-going shadows of its worlding, the group explores the process of taking this portal apart – destabilising points of stabilisation, and disrupting legacies of time and space that hold.

The lecture-performance accompanied by moving image works is followed by a moderated conversation between the group and Helen Pritchard.

The panel is a collaboration with Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures (IXDM), Basel Academy of Art and Design FHNW, and transmediale.

Some of the texts and photographs referenced in this lecture performance are from the Cecil Rhodes archive and are racist, sexist, and infantilizing. The language remains dehumanising, and the violence of colonial archives as imaginaries, infrastructure, and speech-acts stick with us today. The archival data is drawn from the Cecil Rhodes archive (primarily at Oxford and the National Archives), from times during the Kimberley diamond rush (1871), South African gold rushes (1873-1886), and African expansion as a result of British, German, and Portuguese imperialism.

Artist: Michael Salu
Title: Diabolical Architectures of Colonialism
Single channel video
Sound design by Kyprian Rainey

Planetary Portals is a creative research group formed by Casper Laing Ebbensgaard, Kerry Holden, Michael Salu and Kathryn Yusoff (original artworks by Michael Salu) that uses imperial archives to create critical cartographies of the colonial praxis of emergence and extraction.