Nicholas Mangan’s inquiry into the transformation and commodification of the natural world has become increasingly self-aware. The Melbourne-based artist often uses materials as metonyms for complex geopolitical and eco-financial histories. Take Nauru: Notes from a Cretaceous World, 2009–10, a video that details the financial collapse of the Micronesian island of Nauru due to the colonial exploitation of its phosphate. Or his 2013 video installation Progress in Action, which traces the history of the Pacific island Bougainville’s fight for independence from Papua New Guinea. Following protests over a copper-mining operation on the island, the mainland cut the islanders off from access to fuel and food, forcing them to use coconuts as an energy source. To power the projector that screens his film on the subject, Mangan employs a coconut-fueled diesel generator.
At Labor, a black
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