Ignacio Acosta, 2020
born 1976 in Chile; lives and works in London
Ignacio Acosta is a Chilean-born, London-based artist and researcher who explores places made vulnerable through the exploitation of ecologies by colonial intervention and intensive capitalisation. He works with interconnected research projects that involve extensive fieldwork, investigative analysis, audio-visual documentation, and critical writing on sites and materials of symbolic significance. Acosta focuses on resistance against the extractivist industrial impact on valuable natural environments and, through technologies of seeing, enables the generation of meaningful visual and spatial narratives. His interventions position geological and technological forms, as well as human and non-human relationships, in the same landscape. Situated within the urgent need for artistic approaches to critically address the depleting landscapes created by mining, Acosta’s work creatively negotiates the conflicts buried within our living world.
Over the last ten years, he has been devoted to understanding sites and landscapes that, although often neglected, are of global significance: places under pressure from extractive activity in South America and Europe. His most recent works explore the possibilities of drone technologies as tools of resistance within the struggle for decolonisation. Drones are best known for their role in military surveillance; by artistically appropriating these machines, Acosta offers new ways of seeing ecology and counteraction on a planetary scale. Both ideologically, and aesthetically, strategic juxtapositions are a key feature in his visually complex pieces. Yet it is the research practice that underpins his artistic work.
Through thorough, investigative, and ethical practices, his meth-odology is akin to a forensic investigator in his desire to uncover and expose highly ambivalent power dynamics. Moreover, the multiple layers that comprise his individual research process contribute to larger, dynamic collaborations with activists, artists, scientists, writers, and Indigenous Peoples. Collaboration is a particularly important, indeed essential, part of his investigation and representation of the sites on which he works. His research is distributed through exhibitions, public events, publications, and online platforms. At a time of uncertain futures, Acosta’s presentations remain open-ended and can be used as a source for education, activism, and visual culture.
In 2016, he completed a PhD at the University of Brighton as part of Traces of Nitrate, a research project he developed in collaboration with art and design historian Louise Purbrick and photographer Xavier Ribas, which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). In 2018, the publication that stems from his PhD Copper Geographies was published by Editorial RM. In 2017, he received a Research and Development Award and a Project Realisation Award from the Hasselblad Foundation / Valand Academy, Sweden, as part of the Drone Vision project led by Dr Sarah Tuck. In 2019, he received an award from the Arts Council England for his exhibition Tales from the Crust at Arts Catalyst, London, and in 2020, he received the ZF Art Foundation Scholarship.