team  |  media  |  news  |  archive

english | français | 官话 | بالعربي | italiano | русский язык | हिन्दी | español | עברית


Extraction defines Canada, at home and abroad. Of the nearly 20,000 mining projects in the world—from Africa to Asia to Latin America, more than half are Canadian-operated. Not only does the mining economy employ close to 400,000 people across the country, it contributed $52.6 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2012 alone. Globally, more than 75% of prospecting and mining companies on the planet are based in Canada. Seemingly impossible to conceive, the scale of these statistics naturally extends the logic of Canada’s historical legacy as state, nation, and now, as global resource empire. “Not only do imperial colonial powers redefine territories”, according to historian of science Suzanne Zeller, “they also breed new empires, replaying their cycles of dissemination and domination over and over again.” In other words, Canada has become a preeminent resource base and operating platform for the world’s mining industry. If, as Harold Innis described in 1930, “Canada supplied the British and American economies through the exploitation of its considerable bounty”, then it has now become Empire in its own right, home to a legion of its own surface mining firms whose practices reflect Canadian power and presence everywhere on the surface of the planet. As this extractive culture grows, the representation of these complex ecologies of extraction needs to be fully engaged, examined, and exhibited through new languages, discourses and forms of imagination as we move towards the 22nd century.

Opening a wider lens on the cultures of extraction, the project intends to develop a deeper discourse on the complex ecologies of resource extraction. From gravel to gold, across highways and circuit boards, every single aspect of contemporary urban life today is mediated by mineral resources. Through the multimedia language of film, print, and exhibition, the landscape of resource extraction—from exploration, to mining, to processing, to construction, to recycling, to reclamation—can be explored and revealed as the bedrock of contemporary urban life.


The project is a response to Canada’s contemporary culture and global economy of resource extraction. Canadian transnational corporations currently operate close to 9,000 mining projects worldwide, in nearly every country, continent, and ocean on the planet. As a multimedia initiative, the project explores the current and historic legacy of resource extraction from a Canadian perspective with an installation, film, and book featuring prominent creators and influential thinkers, past and present, on Canada’s global resource empire. Co-edited by Pierre Bélanger and Nina-Marie Lister, the book features an array of authors and scholars from across fields of landscape, urbanism, geography, arts, ecology, media, literature, architecture, engineering, science, industry, business and culture. The project will be launched at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016, then tour across a series of resource regions throughout Canada to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.


Led by landscape urbanist Pierre Bélanger, the team includes the design and media organization OPSYS—managed by Christopher Alton and Zannah Matson, in collaboration with Geoffrey Thün, Kathy Velikov and Colin Ripley of the architectural firm RVTR, Nina-Marie Lister with the Ecological Design Lab at Ryerson University, and Kelsey Blackwell of Studio Blackwell. As the Official Commissioner for EXTRACTION, Catherine Crowston and the Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) will support the launch of the project in Venice. Additional project design and logistical planning from Alessandra Lai (Regional Architect, Sardinia), Troels Bruun & Luca Delise (M+B Studio) Jane Zhang (Publication Coordinator & Image Editor), Hamed Bukhamseen (Project Designer), Foad Vahidi (Research & Visualization), Olga Semenovych (Caribbean Research), Lindsay Fischer (Regional Planner-Alberta), Dan Tish (Project Modelling), Jen Ng (Mineral Research), Andrew Wald (Mineral Research), Ya Suo (Research & Visualization), and Martin Pavlinic (Project Mark Design).


May 26-27, 2016 (Venice Biennale Opening & Preview Days)
June-November 2016 (International Exhibition)
January-December 2017 (Canadian & North American Tour)


EXTRACTION is a federally-appointed, international exhibition made possible with funding by the Canada Council for the Arts, a Canadian Crown corporation created in 1957 to act as an arts council for the Federal Government of Canada through the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to foster and promote the study, enjoyment, and production of works in the arts.





Canada Post Archive (1898 Canada Christmas Stamp #85, Map of British Empire "We Hold a Vaster Empire Than Has Been"), Gord McKenna (Sulfur Transfer, Vancouver, British Columbia), Tim Dirven/Panos (Miner, Ghana), Rio Tinto (Diavik Diamond Mine, Nortwest Territories), Flin Flon Heritage Project (Flin Flon Mine Anniversary, Manitoba), Peter Essick (Suncor Millennium Mine, Fort McMurray), Google Earth, Image Landsat (Steam Injection Gravity Drainage Wells, Grand Cache, Alberta), InnovExplo (3D Horne Mine, Rouyn-Noranda, Québec), Michelin Earth Mover (XDR2 World’s Largest Tire), David Chancellor (Security Patrol – Intruders Series, North Mara Mine, Tanzania), George Osodi (DeMoney Series, Ghana), Peter Crock (Royal Bank of Canada Plaza Tower, Toronto), TSX (Chinese Mining Delegation, TMX, Toronto), Greg’s Southern Ontario (Charles Comfort 1937 Frieze, TSE, Toronto), Karim Sahib (Million Dollar Gold Coin Exhibit, UAE), WPA Pool/Pool (Queen of England Elizabeth II, Central Bank of England Gold Vault, London), Sven Torfinn / Panos (Blood Coltan Story, Nyabibwe, South Kivu, DRC), Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press (Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Uranium Deal, 2015), Goldcorp (Aggregate Dry Stacking Process Shed, El Sauzal Mine, Mexico, 2013), PCB Sourcing (Cell Phone Circuit Board, Immersion Gold and Selective OSP), Robin Hammond (Metical Bank Note and Gold in Miner’s Hand, Mozambique), E.A. Hegg Library and Archives of Canada C-005142 (Klondike Gold Rush, Chilkoot Pass, 1898), Project Gutenberg (De Re Metallica, Georgius Agricola, 1556), Library and Archives of Canada (Creighton Mine Shaft Entrance, 1905), Google Earth, CNES Astrium (Kalgoorlie Super Pit, Gold Mine, Western Australia), Anthony DeLorenzo (Venus Mill, Windy Arm, Yukon), Troy Fleece / The Canadian Press (Potash Borer, Rocanville Mine, Sask.), Troy Fleece / The Canadian Press (Potash mine architecture,Rocanville, Sask.), Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg (Potash Dry Storage, Saskatchewan) Williams Engineering (Dry-112 Man Camp, Lac de Gras, Northwest Territories), Terracon Géotechnique (Oil Sands Leases & Concessions, 2015), Karanja Earl Simmons (Mercedes-Benz Actros Hauling Caterpillar 797F, 2014),OPSYS (30X Zoom of Pyrite & Copper from Furtei Mine Italy with Geologist Pocket Lens).


Hamed Bukhamseen, Alexander Cassini, Enrico Evangelisti, Romuald Gurnitski, Apoorv Kaushik, Eliyahu Keller, Ruichao Li, Mariana Llano, Daniel Rauchwerger, Olga Semenovych, Jeanette Sordi, Hui Wang, Jinjin Zhang.


back to top

©2016 OPSYS / Landscape Infrastructure Lab