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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Transnational Cinema/Ecologies and Arts Research Groups Workshop: Dr Lisa Blackmore and Alejandro Jaime

8th February 2019, 10:30, A29, Elvet Riverside I, Durham University

This event is co-sponsored by the Transnational Cinema and the Ecologies and the Arts research groups. For information, please contact: or

Sand Clock, Mud Time. Geostories on a De-industrialising River

Lisa Blackmore (Lecturer in Art History and Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Essex)

In this paper I will explore time and matter on the River Colne, addressing interchanges and feedback loops between geology and industry through a series of landscape formations linked to the extraction of aggregates. I take as my point of departure the impending post-industrial condition that awaits the Colne in the near future, as materialised in the last stock of sand and shingle that sits amassed on its shores awaiting transport by barge to one of the few industrial wharves still left in London. I will reflect on the diverse geotimes that have shaped the riverscape, tracking its sand, shingle and mud through metabolic processes that turn interglacial deposits into concrete, which is considered the most anthropogenic sedimentary rock on the planet. This process links deep geological time to that of the Anthropocene, inviting a conceptualisation of the extractive landscape's gravel pits as "negative deposits" that attest to anthropogenic change, and the architectures their extracted matter help to build as new stratigraphic records and future trace fossils.

Lisa Blackmore is a Lecturer in Art History and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Essex. After obtaining her PhD in Latin American Cultural Studies from Birkbeck College in 2011, she taught at universities in Venezuela and the UK and was Postdoctoral Researcher on the project “Modernity and the Landscape in Latin America: Politics, Aesthetics, Ecology” at the University of Zurich from 2014-17. She is the author of Spectacular Modernity: Dictatorship, Space and Visuality in Venezuela 1948-1958(2017), co-editor of Downward Spiral: El Helicoide’s Descent from Mall to Prison (2017) and Natura: Environmental Aesthetics After Landscape (2018), and co-director of Después de Trujillo (2016). Working at the intersections of practice and research, Lisa combines her current writing on the arts, ecology and memory with curatorial projects and audiovisual production

Extractive Landscapes. From Peru to Essex

Alejandro Jaime (Artist and Lecturer in Painting, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú)

In this paper I will reflect on the process of practice research in two very distinct extractive environments by presenting existing bodies of works produced in Peru in dialogue with concepts and initial results from my artist residency in Essex. The residency project explores and responds to the geology and extractive industries of the Colne Estuary, a longstanding recipient and instigator of dramatic landscape changes. Glacial drifts of sand and gravel deposited here half a million years ago provided the materials that saw the rise of the aggregates industries established on the River Colne in the early twentieth century. Physical traces of these interconnected geological and extractive processes endure in the landscape surrounding the University. Through fieldwork and interdisciplinary conversations, this art-research process aims to delve into the deep time of geohistory and to explore the landscapes of the post-industrial present. Sites for exploration include gravel pits, nature reserves created from obsolete quarries, and extractive infrastructure located on the banks of a river on the cusp of total de-industrialisation.

Alejandro Jaime is a visual artist and researcher who specialises in landscape, public space and ephemeral architecture. Using painting, photography, land art and sculpture, he interrogates human impacts on the land, working across an expansive timeframe that tracks spatial shifts through geological strata, pre-Columbian civilizations, industrialization and ecological decline. Jaime holds a MA in Art History and Curatorial Studies from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, where he works as a Lecturer in Painting at the Faculty of Art and Design. His work is represented in the Colección Hochschild, Peru, and the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America. He has been exhibited widely in museums and galleries across Latin America, Asia and Europe, and taken part in artist residencies at the Fundación Botín in Spain, Royal Botanical Gardens in Ontario, Canada, and URRA, Argentina, among others.

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