Off the Wall: Clarissa Tossin, The 8th Continent, 2021 Digital loom jacquard tapestries with metallic thread

“The 8th continent”: Clarissa Tossin’s site specific

(Austin, USA)

Clarissa Tossin investigates ways in which culture and materialism intersect, specifically how production and consumption can both blur boundaries between cultures and put them in stark relief. The 8th Continent is the outcome of the artist’s interest in the Moon Agreement, adopted by the United Nations in 1979, which states that the environments of the Moon and other celestial bodies “should not be disrupted,” declaring their natural resources the “common heritage of mankind,” and discouraging nations from making individual claims. A 2015 U.S. law skirts this restriction, however, giving private companies the right to mine the Moon and other outer-space territories.

Tossin’s site-specific commission for Moody Center for the Arts, in Austin, USA, repurposes images of the Moon taken by NASA to identify substantial ice deposits, which have the potential to be mined and used in the production of rocket fuel. In a nod to medieval and Renaissance tapestries intended to demonstrate the wealth and power of colonizing countries, Tossin rendered these lunar images as textiles interwoven with metallic thread. The resulting triptych reframes humanity’s drive to explore the Moon within the long shadow of colonial conquest and resource extraction.

By focusing on the eminent extraction of resources on the Moon, The 8th Continent recalls the tension between environmental preservation and industrial exploitation of Earth’s diminishing resources, and considers how frontier mythologies rationalize discovery and the subsequent stages of development and extraction.

Off the Wall: Clarissa Tossin is organized by Ylinka Barotto, Associate Curator, Moody Center for the Arts, and is available for visiting until August 27, 2022.


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