Nauru – Notes from a Cretaceous World

Nicholas Mangan

This video is no longer available

Nicholas Mangan, Nauru – Notes from a Cretaceous World (still), 2010.

e-flux presents Me, You, and Everyone We Know Nauru – Notes from a Cretaceous World
Nicholas Mangan

14 Minutes
Courtesy of the artist, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, and Labor Gallery, Mexico City

June 23–July 6, 2021

Join us on e-flux Video & Film for an online screening of Nicholas Mangan’s Nauru – Notes from a Cretaceous World (2010), streaming from Wednesday, June 23 through Tuesday, July 6, 2021.

Nauru – Notes from a Cretaceous World is a video essay and installation that contrasts the ancient geological history of the Pacific island nation of Nauru with the country’s more recent political and economic situation. Historically, Nauru’s coral limestone rocky landscape has been rich in phosphate—a valuable mineral which, in Nauru, is the product of a mixture of decomposed marine life and guano deposits compressed over millions of years. In the 1920s, the British Phosphate Commission initiated industrial strip-mining of Nauru’s ancient coral landscape, selling the phosphate mineral off to Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand where it was processed into a superphosphate fertilizer used to enrich agricultural soil. Over the coming decades the Nauruan government allowed mining to occur at such an intensity that by 1977, the tiny island nation of Nauru had become the second-richest nation per capita after Saudi Arabia. That year, as a sign of its wealth, Nauru built the then-tallest skyscraper in Melbourne at 80 Collins Street. Called Nauru House, it was crudely dubbed Bird Shit Tower by many Australians. By the turn of the millennium, as phosphate levels became depleted, the Nauruan government began to default on numerous major international loans and declared bankruptcy. At this time, the Australian government initiated its so-called Pacific Solution (2001-07) policy, and later Operation Sovereign Borders (2013-present), in which it paid the financially desperate Nauru to house asylum seekers attempting to arrive in Australia by boat. Of the video essay, Nauru – Notes from a Cretaceous World, the artist has said: “I wanted to look at this moment in human history within a much longer period of time. I wanted to place human agency within the contours of a deeper time frame and an evolving ecosystem that doesn’t place humans as the primary organism.”

Nauru – Notes from a Cretaceous World is presented here as one of four films in Part One | Socio-Economic Systems (Hatred for Capitalism), the first of four programs in the online series Me, You, and Everyone We Know: Interrelationality, Alterity, Globalization programmed by Irmgard Emmelhainz for e-flux Video & Film. The series will run in four thematic parts from June 23 through August 18, 2021. Each part will include a two-week group screening, and a live discussion.

For more information, contact program [​at​] e-flux.com.

Film, Globalization, Capitalism
State & Government, Oceania, Geology, Anthropocene, Documentary, Extractivism
Return to Part One | Socioeconomic Systems (Hatred for Capitalism)

Nicholas Mangan (b. 1979 in Geelong, Victoria) works at the intersection of sculpture and film. His practice explores the unstable relationship between culture and nature, broadly in relation to the Asia Pacific. Mangan’s recent projects have focused on Australia’s geopolitical implication within the region, and its broader economic and ethical place within a global ecology. In order to excavate the contested histories surrounding specific sites and events, his practice involves fieldwork and collaboration across disciplines.


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