Transmediale festival publishes joint essay by Ozayr Saloojee, Zoe Todd, and Émélie Desrochers-Turgeon

February 1, 2022

Two members of the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism have contributed an invited essay to the 2021-2022 transmediale festival for art and digital culture. 


Associate Professor Ozayr Saloojee and Contract Instructor Émélie Desrochers-Turgeon wrote the essay, titled Kerogenic Relations, with Associate Professor Zoe Todd, of Carleton University’s department of sociology and anthropology. 


In Kerogenic Relations, they re-connect to understandings of kerogen — the natural matter from which petroleum and natural gas are formed — as kin. 

“Salt Model Experiment”

Credit: Émélie Desrochers-Turgeon
“Nanook Wax”
Credit: Ozayr Saloojee

“We situate ourselves within the lands, waters, and atmospheres that inform our thinking and our actions in order to imagine how to re-pour our relations with kerogen beyond the current dominant logics of capital, extraction, empire, and white supremacy,” they write. 


 “In so doing, we imagine what is required of us to re-organize and re-pour ourselves in ways that recognize the obligations we hold towards the ancient life transformed through time, heat, and pressure into the kerogenic beings who catalyze today’s fossil fuel economies and ideologies. 


“For those of us not working directly with oil and gas at its sites of capture, extraction, or processing in Canada, we are only reminded of these kerogenic presences when they seep, ooze, flood, and exceed the containment of the maze of infrastructure built to move them across stolen Indigenous homelands across Canada, the USA, Mexico, and other parts of North America.” 

“Oil and Concrete #1”
Credit: Daniel Villar Onrubia
(Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic, CC BY-NC_SA 2.0)
“Oil and Concrete #2”
Credit: Daniel Villar Onrubia
(Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic, CC BY-NC_SA 2.0)

As part of the Germany-based festival’s programming, the essay addresses the festival’s theme over the past year — for refusal. 


“Over the past year, transmediale has mapped out the political agency of refusal, exploring its potential to form new socio-political realities,” explains the festival website. 


“By building an understanding of different modes of refusal and how they intersect, the festival aims to explore how different tactics of refusal can form an assemblage of collective political responsibilities.” 

“Water and Oil”
Credit: Ozayr Saloojee
“Scale Codes”
Credit Ozayr Saloojee
“Lacustrine Grate”
Credit: Émélie Desrochers-Turgeon

About Ozayr Saloojee 


Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dr. Saloojee explores themes of infrastructure, de-coloniality, and alternative urban and landscape futures. His Deep Dust/Killing Dark Studio on Johannesburg’s extractive terrains won a 2020 Studio Prize from Architect Magazine. 


About Zoe Todd 

Dr. Todd (Métis/otipemisiw) writes about fish, art, Métis legal traditions, the Anthropocene, extinction, and decolonization in urban and prairie contexts. She also studies human-animal relations, colonialism, and environmental change in north/western Canada. 


About Émélie Desrochers-Turgeon  


Desrochers-Turgeon is a PhD student working at the intersections of architectural representation, spatial justice, and landscape. Her doctoral research considers the entanglements of settler colonialism, architectural representation, and the relationship between buildings and grounds. 

About transmediale 


For over 30 years, the annual festival for art and digital culture has been bringing together international artists, researchers, activists, and thinkers to develop new outlooks on our technological era through the entanglement of different genres and curatorial approaches.  


Beyond the yearly event, transmediale is a transversal, dynamic platform that facilitates regular publications and year-round activities, including commissions and artist residencies.