Feature: RED GOLD — 29.10.21

Red Gold Algae/Red Gold Reflections: A Project By A.MAL






Words MARYAM ARSHAD
Project RED GOLD
Curator JESSICA EL MAL



Red gold algae.

Sourced from the beaches of El Jadida, along the western coast of Morocco. The algae wasn’t always red gold – unsustainable, exponential demand saw the red algae become ‘red gold’. The alluring nature of the name is exactly what it hints at. Red gold. Algae that is now so valuable, yet simultaneously threatened with extinction derived from the heavily exploitative nature of supply and unparalleled demand.  

Sustainable materials and unsustainable behaviours. An imbalance facilitated and exacerbated by global movements and connections. As the library of ‘sustainable materials’ widens, what is the cost to locals, environments and movements?

Algae is the first thought. Then comes the impacts of sourcing sustainable materials, wider global relations, exploitation, and climate justice. Over 10 years ago, the Moroccan government enforced regulations to mitigate exploitation. Exploitation that has filtered down into each aspect of the ecosystem and the surrounding environments and people. It’s a route we have seen before – a phenomenon whereby a unique material is harvested until a point of detrimental damage. At what point did red algae become red gold? The exploitative side of sustainable and vegan materials is often overshadowed by the plethora of possibilities that the material possesses. Exponential demand and unethical supply chains are overlooked. Local labour and marine environments are pushed to the extreme. Surrounding biodiversity loss and polluted waters threatened algae sensitivity and regeneration. So, the red algae becomes red gold.

Red gold, a vibrant colour. As algae blooms in bioreactors in the UK, artist Sabrina Mumtaz Hasan documents and takes in the vivid unique colour codes (RGB) exuding from them. As part of the residency, Hasan visited algae labs at the Cambridge Innovation Centre. Engaging with the lab, individual perspectives, the blooming process, and micro-algae with Dr. Payam Mehrshahi, she has intertwined these dynamic colours into sculptural audio works. Blooming at differing densities in glass buildings, the red gold algae is captivating. The small insights into her research showcase the thoughts behind ‘On Blooming and On Fleeing: Algal Zayut Relations Post Harvest (2021)’ – Hasan’s work for the collective exhibition.

Red gold algae. Sustainability. Exploitation. Research and art. All encompassed and critically explored by 5 artists in total across the UK and Morocco. Curated by Jessica El Mal from A.MAL Collective, RED GOLD fuses works in film, photography, essays, and sound. Ismail Zaidy, Sabrina Mumtaz Hasan, 560 Zoom, Fatima Zohra, and Leila Gamaz will exhibit their collective works at P21 Gallery in London (29.10.21, 7pm).

Through November, RED GOLD REFLECTIONS, in collaboration with Dardishi, will be a series of online events following the exhibition. From 10 November to 30 November, join the artists in conversation, in engaging, and in thinking.

ARTISTIC INTERVENTIONS IN THIS WRETCHED EARTH. Hosted by JESSICA EL MAL, with KOUNAKTIF, LE CUBE. Seminar, 10 November.

A TRANSCRIPT ON ALGAE NARRATIVES. Hosted by SABRINA MUMTAZ HASAN. Reading and discussion group, 17 November.

WORKING WITH FAMILY ARCHIVES. Hosted by LEILA GAMAZ, 560 ZOOM. Discursive workshop, 25 November.

NATIONAL EXTINCT SPECIES DAY. With LEILA GAMAZ, 560 ZOOM. 3 short film screenings and Q&A, 30 November.








The Great Sculptress


Traversing the ice sculptures and black sands of Diamond Beach, Iceland. A visually stunning photoessay on art and landscapes.

A Desert, A Studio, A Duality Of Objects: With Patricia Vernhes


Other One: objects reimagined, memories visualised and a desert environment in close proximity. An interview with Patricia Vernhes.

Fusing Place And Black Experience: With Emerald Arguelles


On visually rich and culturally intertwined photography, centred around Black models and Black experiences. An interview with Emerald Arguelles.

Mark