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Décollagen / Commercial extinction

Wed 1 May — Thu 2 May 2019

Join artists FRAUD (Audrey Samson & Francisco Gallardo) for a collective field study and workshop exploring Décollagen – a historicisation of the phenomena of Commercial Extinction. Our investigations will be focused on the Firth of Clyde and other shallow waters of Scotland.

'He [mankind] cannot control or change the ocean as, in his brief tenancy of earth, he has subdued and plundered the continents.'—Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us (1951)

Nationalistic and colonialist discourses have depicted the ocean as a non-place, a scene of the sublime, a dangerous-yet-necessary mode of transportation, or, perhaps more importantly as a non-exhaustible resource. Thomas H. Huxley wrote: “I believe that it may be affirmed with confidence that, in relation to our present modes of fishing, a number of the most important sea fisheries, such as the cod fishery, the herring fishery, and the mackerel fishery, are inexhaustible”. Even romantic naturalists such as H. D. Thoreau disassociated oceans from ideas (and ideals) of history. And yet, exhaustion, depletion, or extinction emerge as figures that afford a certain mode of historising oceans, providing depth to the seas previously imagined as an abyss of resources.

'Décollagen' is an exploration into the concept of commercial extinction, which is the economic collapse of certain species no longer profitable to harvest. Commercial extinction emerges as the paradox of both the exhaustion as well as the maintenance of certain forms of life, and includes phenomena such as social death in contemporary forms of inhuman labour. What does it mean to die in a neoliberal world? What newer and subtler degrees of death an extinction emerge under contemporary forms of economic power? What species now lean out at the threshold of profitability in the Clyde? What tastes have been redefined by depletion?

This workshop will be followed by a performance-talk into the commercial extinction of the English brown shrimp (Crangon crangon). Before the commercial extinction of the Thames Estuary brown shrimp, the holds of trawlers and horsebacks were filled with prawns as well as dear memories of Mary Berry. They were loaded🚚 in 🚚lorries 🚚🚚and sent to the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) of Tangier and Tétouan for processing (peeling), only to be sent back to Europe for consumption. Once peeled, the collagen-rich exoskeleton is demineralized for the extraction of chitin—a reddish substance used as a 🚜fertilizer or in food processing. Furthermore, many seafood factories are situated in Free Trade Zones, areas ruled by the freedom of the seas (mare liberum) free from labour and environmental regulations, duty imposition and International Property Rights, just to name a few. Their predecessors, the Free Ports, constituted the dirty, (not so) secret expansion of the empire of Free Trade. Shrimps do not belong properly to land nor to water. They are ploughed with otter trawls from the seabed like vegetables, pickled and eaten as animals, and their shells are mined for fertilizer similarly to guano islands or phosphate mountains.

We invite you to explore these issues through a décollage including a market tour and a collaborative commercial extinction mapping followed by peeling performance-talk!

This event is in collaboration with Professor Jonny Rodger and Civic House


Day 1 - 1st May

10:00 - Meet at the Briggait ex-fish market.
10.30 Pass by the Saltmarket. & Fish plaice
11.30 Arrive at CCA, begin mapping
13.00 Lunch break
14.00 Mapping
16.00 Round up

Day 2 - 2nd May

10:00 Meet at CCA
10.30 Mapping
13.00 Lunch break
14.00 Resume mapping
16.30 Round up/Discussion. Documentation of results
18.00 Lecture Performance, Civic House

Access notes:

Part of this workshop involves walking for 1 or 2 hours, please let us know if you have any access requirements. It would be also great if you can bring your laptop. Please let us know if you have any allergies to fish or seafood or are vegetarian or vegan.

Please note that one ticket covers both days of the event.