Unknown Fields Division – Rare Earthenware

Tsionki, Marianna (2022) Unknown Fields Division – Rare Earthenware. In: Postcards from the Anthropocene: Unsettling the Geopolitics of Representation. dpr-barcelona. ISBN 978-84-122529-1-0

Abstract

This Photo Essay contemplates on the creative practice of Unknown Fields Division to reflect on the planetary geopolitics of rare earth elements. Knots interlace points, trajectories, and networks in their moment of becoming. In 2014, Unknown Fields Division developed an expedition in East Asia to follow the unmaking of electronics and reveal information and landscapes that are in principle absent from or unseen in urban societies’ everyday life. The group focuses on the raw materials of our global capitalist societies, their extraction, and refining. It investigates the production and distribution of a globalised commodity through container loads via ports in Shanghai, Singapore, and Busan. The group’s interest in industrial ecologies and precarious labour led them to carry out an exploration of global maritime trade by tracing large container ships routes, supply chains, factories, and working conditions. The project aims at revealing a tremendous ecological catastrophe as a consequence of global capitalism. Intensification of mining operations, loose regulations, small illegal refineries, combined with the environmental impact of the production of rare-earth elements (REE), have caused unprecedented ecological destruction in the Bayan Obo mining district.

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