Sustaining Resilience: Land Rights and the Politics of Conservation

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This is an edited recording of Sustaining Resilience: Land Rights and the Politics of Conservation, a conversation delving into the relationship between conservation and land rights, highlighting different modes of relating to land and the urgency of centring reparative approaches.

This event brought together artists and researchers to share perspectives on relations with land and modes and meaning of conservation. From work that reflects upon the violence of colonial models and the oppression those modes impose on indigenous knowledges, to methodologies of working with land that sustain resilience.

Contributors included artists Marwa Arsanios and Youngsook Choi, and curator Khanyisile Mbongwa.

This event was a collaboration between Nottingham Contemporary, Primary and The Mosaic Rooms.

Khanyisile Mbongwa is a Cape Town based independent curator, award winning artist and sociologies who engages with her curatorial practice as Curing & Care. Thus using the creative to instigate spaces for emancipatory practices, joy and play. Mbongwa is the curator of Puncture Points, founding member and curator of Twenty Journey and former Executive Director of Handspring Trust Puppets. She’s one of the founding members of arts collective Gugulective, Vasiki Creative Citizens and WOC poetry collective Rioters In Session. Mbongwa was a Mellon Foundation Fellow at the Institute of Creative Arts at UCT, where she completed her masters in Interdisciplinary Arts, Public Art and Public Sphere. She has worked locally and internationally. Most recent projects include, in 2020 Process as Resistance, Resilience & Regeneration – a group exhibition co-curated with Julia Haarmann honoring a decade of CAT. Cologne’s residency program and Athi-Patra Ruga’s solo at Norval Foundation titled iiNyanka Zonyaka (The Lunar Songbook). In 2021, Mbongwa curated a group exhibition titled History’s Footnote: On Love & Freedom at Marres, House for Contemporary Culture in Maastrict, Netherlands. Mbongwa is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Create Arts, University of Cape Town and is a Blak C.O.R.E (Care of Radical Energy) Fellow at the University of Melbourne. She was the Chief Curator of the Stellenbosch Triennale 2020 and is the Curator for the Liverpool Biennial 2023.

Marwa Arsanios’ practice tackles structural and infrastructural questions using different devices, forms and strategies. from architectural spaces, their transformation and adaptability throughout conflict, to artist run spaces and temporary conventions between feminist communes and cooperatives, the practice tends to make space within and parallel to existing art structures allowing experimentation with different kind of politics. Film becomes another form and a space for connecting struggles in the way images refer to other images. In the past four years Arsanios has been attempting to think these questions from a new materialist and a historical materialist perspective through different feminist movements that are struggling for their land. She tries to look at questions of property, law, economy and ecology from specific plots of land. The main protagonists become these lands and the people who work them. Her research includes many disciplines and is deployed in numerous collective methodologies and collaborative projects.

Youngsook Choi is a London-based artist/researcher. Her performances and installations explore the concept of political spirituality by experimenting with intimate aesthetics of solidarity actions and collective healing. More recently, grief has been the focus of Youngsook's practice, posing collective grief as the process of socio-political autopsy around certain types of death. ‘Not This Future’, commemorating the Essex 39 tragedy, and ‘In Every Bite of the Emperor’, the ongoing ecological grief project, are in tandem with this inquiry. Youngsook is also co-founder of a research-practice working group, Decolonising Botany.

The Mosaic Rooms Celebrating its 15th year, The Mosaic Rooms devise a yearlong programme that interrogates active solidarity, support structures and alternative models of self-organisation and collaboration. The Mosaic Rooms, a project of the A.M. Qattan Foundation are a non-profit art gallery and bookshop in London dedicated to supporting and promoting contemporary culture from the Arab world and beyond. We do this through contemporary art exhibitions, artist residencies and multidisciplinary events (including performances, music events, film screenings, current affairs, talks, book launches, reading groups and more), featuring artists, activists, collectives and thinkers. Our creative learning programme aims to develop an ongoing dialogue with the local community, schools, youth groups and art colleges, encouraging active participation in artist led projects.

Primary is an artist-led visual arts organisation in Nottingham. They prioritise creative research, provide studios and development for artists, and run a free public programme of exhibitions and events. In 2022, Primary worked with artists and partners including MADEYOULOOK and the ungovernable (SA) on the Landedness programme. Their long-term collaborative project Nourishment: A cyclical programme delves into food justice, nourishment, growing and sustainable food systems.

Your support is vital

A small one-off or regular donation helps us present free exhibitions, events and education programmes across the city, up and down the UK, and around the world.

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