World of Matter – On the Global Ecologies of Raw Material

01. March 2014 - 22. June 2014 Dortmunder U, Level 3

Water. Coltan. Coal. Oil. Air. Lithium. Fish. Rice. E-waste. Soil. Gold. Plastic. Cotton. Tantalum.

The international research, exhibition and online project "World of Matter" investigates raw materials and the complex ecologies of which they are a part. A multiyear endeavor, it was initiated by a group of artists, photo journalists and theorists who propose to expand public discourse about resources, especially given the ever more privatized nature of actual resources and of knowledge about the powers that control them. The exhibition presents aesthetic and ethical approaches to the handling of resources, while challenging the anthropocentric assumption that the planet’s matter is primarily a resource for human consumption.

The artworks on display are the result of extensive field research addressing various situations of heightened material significance: gold mining in Brazil, oil extraction from Canada’s tar sands, rice and cotton growing in Southeast Asia, land reclamation in Egypt, fishery in the North Sea, the sugar trade in Nigeria and coal mining in the Ruhr. “World of Matter” brings these territories, actors, and ideas into contact in order to stimulate a variety of potential readings about the global connectivity among these sites.

The exhibition in Dortmund is scheduled to travel in 2014-15 to partner institutions in New York, Montreal, Minneapolis and Stockholm.

A publication (in English, with contributions by TJ Demos, Timothy Morton, Gavin Bridge, Nabil Ahmed, Inke Arns, the contributing artists, and others, published by Sternberg Press, Berlin) will accompany the exhibition and provide extensive background information. Its release will coincide with the opening of “World of Matter” at the James Gallery at City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, in September 2014.

Project website:

Listen to the Audioguide (german):
Emily Eliza Scott, World of Matter audio tour


World of Matter venues:

Argos, Brussels, BE

Symposium, 18 - 19 October 2013

HMKV, Dortmund, DE
Exhibition, 1 March - 22 June 2014

The Graduate Center, CUNY, New York, US
Exhibition, Conference, Book release, September 2014

PHI Centre Montreal, in collaboration with Concordia University, Montreal, CA
6 - 20 September 2014

University of Minnesota (UMN), Minneapolis, US

Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm, SE
Exhibition, September – December 2015


Artistic Director: Dr. Inke Arns


Opening: Friday, 28 February 2014, 7 pm, 3rd floor of Dortmunder U // Press Conference: Thursday, 27 February 2014, 11 am, 3rd floor

Funders and Partners

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

Main Funders HMKV:
Kulturbüro Stadt Dortmund
Dortmunder U
Ministerium für Familie, Kinder, Jugend, Kultur und Sport des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen

Supported by:
prohelvetia - schweizer kulturstiftung

The production of the website was supported by:
Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZHdK)
George Foundation

The production of Landrush was supported by:
VG Bild-Kunst
Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig Holstein
filmbüro mv

The production of White Gold was supported by:
VG Bild-Kunst

Media partners:
ARTE Creative

You will find press material on this program item in our press area.