• Geopower (Spatial Self Organisation Against Injustice in Sheffield)

      McCloskey, Paula; Vardy, Sam; University of Derby; Sheffield Hallam University (2019-12-19)
      “[G]eopower has no outside, no ‘place’ or ‘time’ before or beyond it: it is the force, the forces, of the earth itself: forces which we as technical humans have tried to organise, render consistent and predictable, but which we can never fully accomplish insofar as the earth remains the literal ground and condition for every human, and non-human, action.” (Elizabeth Grosz, 2017) On the fringes of Sheffield there is an active and ongoing energy for diverse forms of spatial self-organisation as resistance to forms of injustice, specifically around resistance to shale gas fracking, and the struggles of former coal-mining communities, where 35 years after the so-called ‘Battle of Orgreave’, campaigners are still organising for justice. The varied topography of the former colliery at Orgreave is now starting to be reinscribed through new housing and leisure developments yet harnesses complex layers of trauma and politics. Geopower (Spatial Self Organisation Against Injustice) (September 2019), an ‘a place of their own’ (art and spatial research practice of Sam Vardy and Paula McCloskey aplaceoftheirown.org) project, commissioned by Arts Catalyst (artscatalyst. org) as part of their Recentring Attention Programme. The project was a co-inquiry into the complexities of extraction in the ecologically diverse and newly politicised territories of the former Orgreave Colliery, South Yorkshire, as well as anti-fracking protest camps around Sheffield’s old mining communities. McCloskey and Vardy engaged with activists from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign to explore their organisation and annual event, as well aa Women Against Pit Closures, and anti-fracking activists who have established camps to protest new fracking test sites. A multi-format event was devised across the former Orgreave colliery site, and in the Treeton Reading Rooms. The event included McCloskey and Vardy’s performative walk, which saw them perform extracts from theoretical texts and speeches exploring the politics of extraction from decolonial and anti-colonial theorists and activists (e.g. Gloria Anzaldúa, Elizabeth Povinelli, Artemisa Xakriabá, Sylvia Wynter, Elizabeth Grosz, Anna Tsing, Kathryn Yusoff, Zapatistas) around the post-extraction landscape with a live art performance by invited local artist Damien Fisher (who is part of the LGBTQI community in support of the miners’ campaign). Following the walk, a collective conversation with local fracking and coal-mining activists drew together different groups and networks, and created a unique space for different struggles, experiences, and stories to be shared, between academic and non-academic groups. The event, which was attended by about 60 people, also situated the conversation, beyond the city centre towards the boundary between Sheffield and Rotherham, at the site itself of the stories that were told. McCloskey and Vardy were subsequently invited in 2020 by the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign to engage in and present at an online event Music, Art and Activism event September, 2020, the video for which has had over 3200 views (view live recording: https://www. facebook.com/120820591409802/ videos/635011967205130