INSURGENT GEOLOGY: Mineral Matters in the Arctic

A digital rendering of an arctic landscape with cylindrical sections of a pipeline, each separated from any other, arranged on the ground in a straight line.

by Melanie Louterbach (MLA I ’24)

“Insurgent Geology” is about oil, fossils, power, and people. It is about blowing up pipelines and taking care of the soil. Shifting from deep time to speculative near future, it calls for both insurrection and geo-poetics for environmental and social justice in the Arctic.   

Projected in 2051, “Insurgent Geology” unearths past land trauma, speculates on the post-oil landscapes of Alaska, and investigates alternative geo-social practices and mineral kinships. It critiques geology as an extractive, neocolonial discipline and practice. It challenges the concept of the Museum of Natural History and explores novel methods to share geological knowledge to the public. A novel geo-social classification is proposed, and alternative geo-aesthetics are explored through the design of “mineral gardens” and “geo-memorials.”

A digital rendering depicting various sites for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic.
Composite long section along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) in Alaska. Profiles have been selected and stitched together from the site of oil and gas extraction in Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic Plains to Valdez Town, the outlet of the pipeline, in southern Alaska. The lower grey section at the base of the drawing shows the actual elevation profile and the permafrost thickness along the pipeline.

“Insurgent Geology” reinterprets the concept of the Site and Non-Site. A counter-exhibition is designed (the non-site), paired with a pilgrimage through the extractive landscapes of Alaska. Following the oil from the outlet of the pipeline in Valdez town to the site of extraction in the Arctic slope, the pilgrimage is connected by site-specific interventions designed along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (the sites).

Advisor: Rose Monacella

An image of the cover and interior pages of a publication called Manual for a Petrostate Dis-Assembly. The interior spreads include text and diagrams related to oil and gas drilling.
Manual for a petrostate dis-assembly. The guide urges eco-militants to escalate the climate justice movement by fostering direct actions against targeted private property related to the oil and gas industries. Technical information about the pipeline is provided, as well as the “Ethics of the Perfect Saboteur.”