The Gas Imaginary in The Jerusalem Show VIII ‘Before and After Origins’

For the eighth edition of The Jerusalem Show, curated by Vivian Ziherl, Al Ma’mal Foundation presents ‘Before and After Origins’ as part of Qalandiya International 2016 – This Sea Is Mine.

See the full program: Before and After Origins Program

My series on unconventional gas extraction, The Gas Imaginary, is presented in collaboration with Valle Medina and Benjamin Reynolds from PA/LA/CE Architects and artist Rodrigo Hernandez.

The Gas Imaginary is an artistic research project incorporating poetry, photomedia
documentation, archi-poetic diagrams and essayistic labours exploring the aesthetic languages, mechanical ideology, speculative economics, and technocultural patterning surrounding the large-scale install of ‘unconventional’ gas extraction. Through this technology and industry, indebted state and national governments cause disenfranchised rural but increasingly urban populations to speculate on their own health and futures: through compensatory leasing arrangements, temporary industry employment and privatized infrastructure delivery and sponsorship aimed at the social licensing of investment in environmental injustice and dispossessions from common bioheritage.

I will also participate in a panel discussion, ‘Poetics and Power, In Translation’ on Wednesday 19 October at 18:00 at Garage Coffee Shop & BAR, Al Rajaa Street, Ramallah, Palestine.

This discussion event features poetry reading, a lecture and a public editing workshop that seeks to grasp the power of language in the governance of land, property and peoples. The event departs from the many contributions to Jerusalem Show VIII that prominently feature language. These include the prison writings of Syrian/Golan poet Yasser Khanger, drawings by Rachel O’Reilly that diagram the social economies of mineral extraction politics in Australia, and a legal contract devised by Ramallah-based artist Yazan Khalili. The event will take place in Arabic and English, with translation foregrounded as a crucial issue in itself, and is in collaboration with the Educational Bookshop (Jerusalem) and Garage Cafe.

For more information: Poetics and Power – In Translation


The Gas Imaginary, solo exhibition at the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum

I will exhibit my collaborative exhibition The Gas Imaginary at GRAGM from July 2 – August 13, 2016 with an official launch on June 25, 2016 at 6pm.

This short video discusses the research and concepting behind this longer duree artistic work on unconventional gas extraction. The specific work in this showing, ‘THE GAS IMAGINARY, Broken norms, unconventional extraction, drawings and other collaborative acts’ 2016 was produced in collaboration with PALACE Architects (Valle Medina and Benjamin Reynolds) and artist Rodrigo Hernandez. Film material produced by Louise O’Reilly.

“Despite traversing World Heritage Protected and UNESCO-listed terrain, the LNG developments and dredging of the Gladstone Harbour were made possible through legal innovations and special economic zonings. Environmental Impact Assessments of the infrastructure itself have since been proven to have lacked ‘critical information’ on groundwater and well locations, while the process of approval has been subjected to a 2015 Federal Senate Inquiry.

The artist would especially like to thank and pay respects to Gooreng Gooreng Elders Jackie and Lindsay Johnson and Juliri Ingra for their time, generosity and commitment to culture, and Cheryl Watson of the Gladstone Conservation Council during the research phase.”

For further information: The Gas Imaginary, Gladstone

The Gas Imaginary artist talk, Institute for Modern Art, Brisbane

The IMA’s current exhibition Frontier Imaginaries: No Longer at Ease features two collaborative drawing series’ from my ongoing project The Gas Imaginary (2011-). On May 26, 2016 at 18:00, I will discuss this project in more detail in a free lecture at the IMA.

The first series—The Gas Imaginary (2014)—traces the difference between the modernist imagination of underground mining versus contemporary fracking regimes. The second series—Gladstone, Post-pastoral (2016)— has been commissioned for the Brisbane launch of Frontier Imaginaries. It gives a deep time and horizontal social image to the privatised drama of approvals surrounding the expansion of the port of Gladstone into a gas export hub for Queensland.

Despite traversing World Heritage Protected and UNESCO-listed terrain, the LNG developments and dredging were made possible through legal innovations and special economic zonings. Environmental Impact Assessments of the infrastructure itself have since been proven to have lacked ‘critical information’ on groundwater and well locations, while the process of approval has been subjected to a 2015 Federal Senate Inquiry. 

Both series have been produced in collaboration with PALACE architects (Valle Medina and Ben Reynolds) and artist Rodrigo Hernandez.

Born in Gladstone and based in Berlin, Rachel O’Reilly is a poet, critic, independent curator and researcher. Her work explores relationships between art and situated cultural practice, media and psychoanalysis, aesthetic philosophy and political economy. From 2004-08 she was a curator of film, video and new media at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. She has a background in comparative literature, and a Master (Cum Laude) in Media and Culture from the University of Amsterdam. Rachel is part of the How to Do Things With Theory program at the Dutch Art Institute. From 2013-14 she was a researcher in residence of the Jan van Eyck Academie, NL. Her critical writing has been published by Cambridge Scholars Press, MIT Press, and Postcolonial Studies and in collaborative criticism e-books by the V2 Institute for Unstable Media, Rotterdam.

Website: The Gas Imaginary talk

Pre-figures of Divestment in Feminist Cinemas of Extraction seminar

On Tuesday May 24, 6-8pm, I will give my seminar: “Pre-figures of Divestment in Feminist Cinemas of Extraction” at the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA)

It is presented for the seminar series “Precarity//Futurity//Aesthetics”, co-convened by Jennifer Biddle, Anna Munster and Veronica Tello, at the Elywn Lynn Conference Centre (near the UNSW A&D library).

Contemporary mine production involves high salaried contractors negotiating ‘unconventional’ extractive regimes via increasingly privatized, post-democratic licensing and labour agreements, at the anthropocenic limits of land use. In the settler-colony especially, the image of mining labour, once key for dramatizing production (and anti-production, in strike) has been mobilized within the New Economy in ways that fundamentally disturb the figure-ground relations of citizenship through which the mine worker dialectically achieved its value in the first place.

Rachel O’Reilly’s visit to NIEA, UNSW A&D, coincides with the presentation of two series of drawings from her larger research project, The Gas Imaginary (2011-) as part of Frontier Imaginaries, currently at IMA/QUT.

Working through the difference of the contemporary mode of primitive accumulation of the mining contract, this talk draws on an earlier generation of feminist filmmakers’ im-proper and clinamen-like engendering of industry forms and formal ‘movement’, between labour and nature, to substantiate a contemporary aesthetic theory of divestment.

1. Sandra Lahaire, Uranium Hex, 1987
2. Susan Wallace-Babb in oxygen mask, Winnsboro, Texas, Sept. 12, 2011. (Erin Trieb for ProPublica)

Future Vocabularies event, BAK, Utrecht

Artist talk: Instituting for the Contemporary, BAK

As part of BAK’s Future Vocabularies project, I particpated in an Artist Talk/public editorial meeting alongside Simon Sheikh and Ewa Majewska, April 11, 2016 from 19.00–22.00 hrs,  Utrecht’s BAK, basis voor actuele kunst.


In the first of three Public Editorial Meetings held towards the publication of the new critical reader Instituting for the Contemporary, Ewa MajewskaRachel O’Reilly, and Simon Sheikh will present draft contributions in response to one of the reader’s eight guiding concerns: “compositionalism”; “not not art, not not politics”; and “care to power” respectively.

These terms bring to question the methods of, and resistance to, the institution. They raise a number of considerations: the transversal assemblies of contemporary organization and its forms (compositionalism); the slippage between categories and methodologies in such practices (not not art, not not politics); and the intertwining issues of care and interlocution in relation to the institution (care to power).

Ewa Majewska’s presentation outlines her proposal for a non-heroic “weak resistance,” that poses the question of an institution of the common. This new form of institution would be one rooted in the resistant composition of singularities that make up feminist, post-colonial, and so-called “periphery locations’ debates on the commons and its political agency.

Drawing on her ongoing project “The Gas Imaginary,” Rachel O’Reilly presents a selection of interventions, images, and vernacular texts, useful for reading the historical present of “extractivist realism” alongside counter-politics, their limits, and the convergences between the aesthetic tactics of contemporary industry and neoliberal culture sectors.

Simon Sheikh connects the notions of care (for the self), through the capacity for speaking of truth to power, to a consideration of the question of how to institute anew. If the speaking of truth has long informed the artistic political critique of institutional critique, the coupling of care to power proposes that the position of speaker — produced as an audience, and speaking for this body — be central to thinking institutionality, and indeed governmentality today.

More on the program: BAK Future Vocabularies