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Conference | Mining Value: Art and the Extraction of Resources

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The Sibyl Centre, The Women's College

The University of Sydney

15 Carillon Avenue

Newtown, NSW 2042


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The Power Institute together with the Terra Foundation and the Sydney Environment Institute presents the two-day conference "Mining Value: Art and the Extraction of Resources”. This conference is free and open to the public, and we welcome everyone who is interested to join us for a series of papers from both Australian and international academics. Please be sure to register for catering purposes.


Why should we talk about Art and Mining? This conference will bring together papers from a variety of periods and cultures that explore how artists and artworks depend on mining and abstraction for their very materials, how artists add value to their material resources, and how artists envisage and imagine mines and extraction sites.

Mining and artistic production have long been closely linked: we might think not just of gold leaf decoration and the quarrying of marble but also the refining of natural pigments and the mixing of clay bodies. Artworks are also at times literally excavated, as at archeological sites, and the artistic processes often resonate with geological ones such as the imprinting of fossilization or the rounding of rough stone.

Other questions the conference asks include: What does it mean to conceptualize the value of art objects as something hidden beneath the surface, or like as a substance dug out of the ground? What kinds of relations do such terms suggest between art objects and other kinds of valuable resources? How might artworks materialize labour and production, or engage with the realities of resource depletion or environmental scarcity?

The Conference is convened by Mark Ledbury, Director of the Power Institute, in conjunction with Maggie Cao (University of North Carolina), Alex J Taylor (University of Pittsburgh) and Sophie Cras (University of Paris 1). Speakers include Anne Dunlop (University of Melbourne), Amy Ogata (University of Southern California), Anna Arabindan-Kesson (Princeton University); Matthew Hunter (McGill University), Iain McCalman (University of Sydney), Ann Elias (University of Sydney), Ian McLean (University of Melbourne) and Maggie Cao. Respondents include Jennifer Ferng (University of Sydney), Ute Eickelcamp (University of Sydney), Sophie Cras and Alex J Taylor.

The conference is the third in a series dedicated to economic encounters of and with artworks, following events held in New York and Paris

The event is supported by the Power Institute’s “Art in Action” grant and a grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art.

The full programme and schedule of events will appear here soon. Catering will be provided, including morning and afternoon teas as well as lunch.


9:30am – 5pm

Thursday 9 August, 2018

1:30pm - 7pm

Friday 10 August, 2018

The Sibyl Centre

The Women’s College

University of Sydney

5 Carillon Ave

Newtown NSW 2042

For enquiries, contact:


Alex J Taylor, Assistant Professor and Academic Curator, History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh

Amy Ogata, Professor of Art History, Art History Department, University of Southern California

Ann Elias, Associate Professor, History and Theory of Contemporary Global Art, Department of Art History, University of Sydney

Anna Arabindan-Kesson, Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Archaeology, University of Princeton

Anne Dunlop, Professor and Herald Chair of Fines Arts in the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne

Ian McLean, Professor and Hugh Ramsay Chair in Australian Art History in the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne

Iain McCalman, Professor, Department of History, University of Sydney

Maggie Cao, David G. Frey Assistant Professor of Art History, Department of Art & Art History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Matthew C. Hunter, Associate Professor, Art History, Art History & Communication Studies, McGill University

Ute Eickelcamp, Future Fellow, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney

Sophie Cras, Assistant Professor, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Additional participants to be announced soon...

Registrations end on 8 Aug 2018.

Image: Reinhold Vasters, Saxon miner cup (c. 1866-72), chalcedony, quartz and silver, 13.4 x 23 x 12.7 cm

Date and Time


The Sibyl Centre, The Women's College

The University of Sydney

15 Carillon Avenue

Newtown, NSW 2042


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