by Cameron Procter
We are pleased to present a summary of the activities of LOOK/15’s artist-in-residence, Ignacio Acosta. During his residency, Acosta was engaged with different forms of mapping the invisible geography of copper in Liverpool. He used various forms of charting Liverpool’s forgotten links to the copper trade in the 19th century, including archival research, online mapping, walks, and a series of photographic interventions. These activities were presented during the festival at the Bluecoat in a conversation with Art and Design historian Louise Purbrick, a member of the Traces of Nitrate research project, with whom he conducted a walk around the city.
During his residency, Acosta worked from 8 Water Street, looking at Liverpool’s long-standing relationship to the copper mining industry. With the assistance of trade directories and customs information, Acosta was able to create a map of over 40 copper brokers, merchants, and manufacturing companies active in Liverpool in 1877. Additionally, Acosta photographed the hidden copper within the city’s financial district and at Sudley House, providing a visual representation of Liverpool’s present-day relationship to the metal.
This newest body of work is the latest in a series of Copper Threads, which stems from archival research and looks at the links between the disparate geographies of the Chilean desert and the United Kingdom. Other works presented at the Bluecoat and reviewed in this platform are Coquimbo&Swansea, Miss Chuquicamata, the Slag, and Antofagasta plc, Stop Abuses!
Following his residency, Acosta delivered a talk at the Bluecoat with Louise Purbrick. Here, he gave an overview of his photographic research into the transformation and mutation of copper, as well as its global hyper-mobility, making visible both the impact of the commodity in Chile’s economically fragile Atacama Desert and its widespread circulation in the United Kingdom.
Following this, Acosta and Purbrick led a radical history tour around the city, following the points of interest highlighted in the map created during his time at 8 Water Street. They made stops at Derby Square, Albion House, Martins Bank, and finally, the Royal Exchange. At each site, they revealed the forgotten links between Liverpool and Latin America in the 19th century. One particular highlight of this tour was the mosaic on the floor of the entrance to Albion House, laid by the Pacific Steam Navigation Co, who provided crucial commercial links between Europe and South America in the late 1800s.
A booklet containing archival material was published and given to attendees of the walk, the end of which signaled the close of his residency with LOOK/15.
Ignacio Acosta would like to express his deepest gratitude to the supporters who made the realisation of this project possible.