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Underworld ecologies

Hosted by LSE Arts

Atrium Gallery, Old Building, United Kingdom

Underworld ecologies dives into remote and often inaccessible spaces across oceans and lands that remain unmapped, ungoverned, and invisibilised through long lineages of erasure.

The artistic and scientific works offer a glimpse into the unseen. They witness the enclosed petrochemical plants in ‘Cancer Alley’ in Louisiana (US) and the invisibilised racial intoxication of Black bodies and lands, through the work of artist, activist, and writer Imani Jacqueline Brown. They present unknown species and organisms from the abyssal seafloor of the Pacific Clarion-Clipperton Zone, through materials brought back from scientific expeditions by marine biologists Adrian Glover (Natural History Museum) and Daniel Jones (National Oceanography Centre). They trace the imperceptible physical force of sonic movements materialising into fossils, through the work of artist Dominique Koch. The video, sound, photographic, and material installations reveal threshold ecologies at the boundary between the living and nonliving. The exhibition thereby reflects on and problematises different forms of extraction – of labour, fossils fuels, oceanic minerals, and scientific knowledge. 

This exhibit is organised by the LSE Law School.

More about this event

Underworld ecologies is curated by Marie Petersmann (LSE Law School), Siva Thambisetty (LSE Law School), Alexandra Klegg (LSE Law School), and María Montero Sierra (TBA21–Academy) and is organised by the LSE Law School in association with LSE Arts. For queries, please contact LSE Arts at arts@lse.ac.uk or exhibition coordinator Alexandra Klegg at a.klegg@lse.ac.uk.

About the contributors

Imani Jacqueline Brown is an artist, activist, and architectural researcher from New Orleans, based in London. Her work investigates the ‘continuum of extractivism’, which spans from settler-colonial genocide and slavery to fossil fuel production and climate change. She is a PhD candidate in geography at Queen Mary University of London, a Research Fellow in Forensic Architecture, and an Associate Lecturer in MA Architecture at the Royal College of Arts. The exhibition features her video installation The Remote Sensation of Disintegration. 

Dr Adrian Glover leads the Deep-Sea Systematics and Ecology Group at the Natural History Museum in London and Dr Daniel Jones is head of the Ocean Biogeosciences Research Group at the National Oceanography Centre and an Honorary Professor at Southampton University. The exhibition features a video installation, photographs, as well as seafloor samples and species brought back from a 2-month oceanographic expedition in the Pacific led by both scientists. As the deep ocean is the world’s largest ‘new resource frontier’ and is currently being actively explored for marine mineral extraction, new hydrocarbon industries, and deep-water fisheries, their work aims to increase scientific understanding of fragile marine resources while studying the potential impact of such activities. 

Dominique Koch is an artist based in Basel, Switzerland, whose installations act as ‘thinking laboratories’ that explore the materiality of language and sound. Her work focuses on multispecies communication and sensorial attunements to them through corporeal experiences. The exhibition features her Sound Fossils as well as an audio installation of  terratones.fm (in collaboration with Tobias Koch). 

About the curators

Dr Marie Petersmann is an Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the LSE Law School. Her work focuses on law and ecology and explores how demands for ecological justice and reparative re-arrangements of human-nonhuman relations can inspire practices of refusal and resistance in international law. Marie co-organises the Underworlds events and podcast series on ‘Sites and Struggles of Global Dis/Ordering’, of which this exhibition also forms part. 

Dr Siva Thambisetty is an Associate Professor of law at the LSE Law School. Her work focuses on intellectual property protection and technology including the circulation and commodification of genetic resources. Her expertise on marine genetic resources contributed to the agreed text of the Oceans Treaty at the UN in 2023. This treaty sets up new governance frameworks for biodiversity found in nearly two thirds of the earth beyond national jurisdiction. At the LSE she leads the Ocean Biodiversity Collective. 

Alexandra Klegg is Head of Events, Communications and Creative Projects at the LSE Law School. Her work focuses on strategic event planning, delivering an extensive academic events programme with the Events Team and developing a range of communication channels with all stakeholders. She oversees brand image, podcasts, and leads various creative projects within the Law School. Alexandra is also the production editor of the annual alumni magazine Ratio.  

María Montero Sierra is an art historian and curator who is currently head of program of TBA21–Academy. Under the initiative of the Academy, she is developing Fishing Fly, a research project on the relationships between marine and human ecosystems from the prism of eating. Her curatorial projects include ‘Frequency Singular Plural’, a cycle of performances at CentroCentro, Madrid (2019), and ‘En los cantos nos diluimos’ at Sala de Arte Joven de la Comunidad de Madrid (2017), along with other collaborations, including ‘Joan Jonas: Moving Off the Land’ at Tate Modern (2018) and TBA21–Academy’s The Current II (2018–20), The Current III (2021–24), and The Current IV (2023–25).  

Twitter hashtag for this event: #LSEArts

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This exhibition is free and open to all. For any queries, please emails arts@lse.ac.uk.

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