This LUNÄ Talk, held as part of On-Trade-Off, will focus on the environmental, social and economic implications of the extraction and processing of lithium. In the discussion, we will look at the history of energy and address the importance of raw materials from D.R. Congo in both the industrial and technological revolutions. At the same time we will address experimental models of sustainable energy production and future prospects for lithium mining in D.R. Congo.

Hosted by the artists Marjolijn Dijkman and Maarten Vanden Eynde, researchers Raf Custers (Gresea), Jeroen Cuvelier (Ugent) and Zheng Li (KU Leuven) and the journalist and writer Tine Hens will engage in conversation with the artists Femke Herregraven, Sammy Baloji and Georges Senga who are part of the project On-Trade-Off. The audience is welcomed to listen and actively respond to the ideas and corresponding artefacts put on the table.

The conversation is part of the project On-Trade-Off, created by the artist initiatives Picha (Lubumbashi, DRC) and Enough Room for Space (Brussels, BE). On-Trade-Off takes its cue from the raw material lithium, currently considered to be the ‘the new black gold’ because of its crucial role in the global transition towards a ‘green and fossil-free economy’.

LUNÄ, a project by Marjolijn Dijkman (ongoing since 2011) references the legacy of the 18th century Lunar Society, a group of enthusiasts and scholars who met on full moon nights in Birmingham to discover and discuss new ideas, also known as the Lunarticks. Their debates brought together philosophy, science, industrial developments and commerce as well as art, education and social rights. Original Lunar Members included Matthew Boulton, Erasmus Darwin, Thomas Day, Joseph Priestley, James Watt and Josiah Wedgwood.

Three centuries later, LUNÄ revisits this moment of historical significance with yet another critical discussion. Each conversation, in sync with the full moon, features a high tide of ideas, concepts and questions, instigating concordances between exciting current developments in science, philosophy and the social imagination.

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