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Emergency and Emergence

In the framework of our exhibition Hollow Earth: Art, Caves & The Subterranean Imaginary and our research strand Emergency & Emergence, Nottingham Contemporary presented Caves, Dwellings & Vibration, a two-day programme deepening and complexifying our relationship with caves through talks, sound, film and performances. As part of Caves, Dwellings & Vibration, Kathryn Yusoff delivered the keynote presentation Rethinking Geologic Subjectivity in Broken Earths moderated by University of Nottingham’s Director of the Centre for Critical Theory Andrew Goffey.

In this talk, Yusoff time travelled through the broken earths of the Anthropocene in order to unearth the historical constructions of racialised undergrounds of Indigenous, Black and Brown life. Considering undergrounds as archetypes in the production of knowledge and the materialising of colonial worlds, Yusoff gave further insights into the mine and the cave to discuss accounts of materiality and geologic time. Understanding undergrounds as an affective medium of colonial earth, she addressed questions of inhuman intimacy and subterranean tactics to redress the weaponization of geology.

Yusoff expanded on her research which examines how inhuman and nonorganic materialities have consequences for how we understand issues of environmental change, race and subjectivity. What does it mean to be a geologic subject in the Anthropocene? When and where are the broken earths of the planetary? Thinking through undergrounds disturbs the plasticity of the surface and destabilises the politics of the present.

Caves, Dwellings & Vibration was conceived as a sensorial exchange across research, mediation and performance aspiring to look closely into the poetic and artistic knowledge and wisdom caves carry, to think about the notions of geologic and deep time, archaeoacoustics and the uses of caves as spaces of dwellings but also as spaces of upheaval.