European Prospects
Exploring European Identity through Photography

Ignacio Acosta

Ignacio Acosta

Ignacio Acosta


Ignacio Acosta (born in Valparaíso, Chile, 1976) is an artist based in London working mainly with photography. His practice involves long-term interconnected research projects, which involve archival research, extensive field-work and mapping. Acosta explores the relationship between mobility and geography, constructing an imaginary landscape that express the impact of economic imperialism. He is interested in creating frameworks to unravel invisible network between sites and locations geographically disparate but historically connected by flows and matters.

His current practice-based Ph.D titled Copper Geographies explores links between distressed ecologies of resource exploitation in the Atacama Desert, Chile and global centres of consumption and trade in Britain. He is part of Traces of Nitrate: Mining history and photography between Britain and Chile, an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded research project based at the University of Brighton. 

Portfolio Coquimbo & Swansea

These two geographies, Coquimbo, Chile and Lower Swansea Valley, Wales are connected through extraction and smelting processes that took place between 1840 and 1880. The project recalls the Geographical and Geological Explorations, which, motivated by scientific, military and economic interests, reconnoitred the Western territories of the U.S.A during the 19th century; at that time, the industrial sites represented were in full production.

The project is conceived in terms of the journey of the copper from initial extraction and smelting in Chile, over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, towards the final smelting and manufacturing processes, in the once heavily industrialised River Tawe in the Lower Swansea Valley.

These photographs bring together a series of ignored historical relations that are obscured by new forms of territorial occupation, such as settlements, stadiums, gentrified developments and shopping centres. While in Chilean the remote landscapes appear neglected as lack of awareness of their historical significance, in the Lower Swansea Valley, traces of copper industry have been almost completely erased as result of revolutionary conservation work carried from the 1960s to the 1980s to reclaim the toxic land caused by the smelting industries.

An exhibition of this work is scheduled for the Swansea Waterfront Museum in 2017.

Portfolio Mapping Domeyko

This project inspired by journeys of the Polish mineralogist, Ignacy Domeyko (1802-1889).

Ignacy Domeyko is famous for his achievements in mineralogy, education and respected for his modest approach to life. He participated in educational projects that focused on the sustainable development of people and industry and sought the inclusivity and protection of indigenous communities.

A citizen of the world, Domeyko was born in Niedźwiadka Wielka in 1802 within the Russian partition of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and lived most of his life in his adopted Chile.

Using as a starting point Domeyko’s memoirs My Travels (Diaries in Exile), the project maps out Domeyko’s global movements, exploring his blurred national identity, between Chile, Lithuania and Poland. While living in Chile, Domeyko had been sharing rare mineral speciments with European academies in France and Poland (1) Musee de Minéralogie at Mines ParisTech, Paris; France (2) Museo Mineralógico Ignacio Domeyko, Universidad de La Serena, Chile; (3) Muzeum Geologiczne Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Kraków; and (4) Muzeum Geologiczne Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, Kraków, Poland.

As part of the project, we are facilitating a cultural exchange of ores specimens between two of these museums, Muzeum Geologiczne and Museo Mineralógico Ignacio Domeyko.

An exhibition of this work is scheduled for 2017 at Laznia, Centre for Contemporary, Gdańsk, Poland.

Mapping Domeyko is a collaborative project between Ignacio Acosta & Jakub Bojczuk.



2015 Unseen Magazine, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2015 Beyond Gated Communities, Routledge, London

2015 Tarapacá Landscapes, Metales Pesados, Chile

2014 Biennial of the End of the World, Argentina


2014 Biennial of the End of the World, Argentina

2014 WildPansy Project Space, University of Leeds, UK

2014 Mining Drawings, Galería AFA - Chaco, Santiago, Chile

2013 Surface Exposure, University of Brighton, UK

2013 Traces of Nitrate, Birkbeck, University of London, UK

Additional information: 

Acosta was the Artist in Residence at the Look/15 Photography Festival, his activities can be read about on their blog. His project Coquimbo & Swansea was also featured on the Look Photo Festival blog.

A proposal of Acostas PhD project Copper Documents: Photography of an uneven political geography of copper and its global hypermobility can be read on the University of Brighton website.

Acostas work is featured on the Biennial of the End of the World website.

An interview with Acosta can be read on 100 Eyes Latino