1989 - Spain  



Miguel Sbastida is a visual artist working across sculpture, video installation and site-specific performance, in an investigation around the intersections of geological time, material cycles, cultural ecologies and climate breakdown.

Over the last years, he has extensively researched his kinship with the geological world through material, epistemological, geopoetic, and vital-materialist perspectives. Stones that murmur memories, displaced glacial ice, trying to become a rock, scars in geological time, joining forces with the ocean in the erosion of a cliff… 

In his works, Sbastida explores connections between the biologic and geologic, cultural and natural; emphasizing and urging to look at the world through perspectives that reject the anthropocentric hierarchies we impose on nature, and its divisions between the lively and the inert. 

Through on-site research, durational performance, specimen study (drawing, reproduction, examination, displacement), and object making (map-making, rock-making, casting, video), Sbastida challenges traditional boundaries between the human/non-human spheres, activating spaces for critical thinking, eco-feminism, and a possible re-evaluation of our relationship with the Earth Organism.

Deep Time Geology of Spoleto

When I sit behind this wooden table, I ask myself why I only perceive its wood and object qualities. Why am I not perceiving “tree” as a first instance, when the history of the tree is contained in the object of the table in itself?

I have been studying the intricate connections that exist between the geological sphere and the body for the last few years, in ways that question traditional boundaries separating the biologic and geologic, the vital and the inert. I believe our knowledge radically influence our perception of objects, materials and realities, and can change our notion of an environment we grow increasingly disconnected from. When I applied to Spoleto, I was mainly drawn to its limestone mountain, and to its proposal for site-specificity.

There is a particularly strong connection between limestone as an inert, geological entity and the biological sphere. More specifically, between some mineral components in our bones (like calcium carbonate), and that identical one from sea shells, coral reefs and biological structures, which through processes of rock consolidation form limestone, of which the area of Spoleto is made of. 

What forms the geological record, when life forms geology and geology forms life? In other words, we are entangled to the mountain when it comes to material kinship. Like Jane Bennet points out, “We are walking, talking minerals”.

Deep Time Geology of Spoleto is a project that reflects on the material specificity and geological history of Monteleone di Spoleto, emphasizing the ways in which geologic time transcends human perception. 

What was the landscape here like, before this hermitage took its place? How to understand it? How to remember its limestone shapes? How to create a new relationship with its present state?

Through a series of found rocks and sculptures carved directly on Limestone, the project tries to establish relationships between the rocks that shape the territory of Spoleto, and the tropical waters of the lower Jurassic that formed them. 

Limestone is composed of calcite, which originates from the precipitation of calcium carbonate in clear sea water, or through the grinding and accumulation of massive amounts of shells. Although it is widely found above sea level, it is part of a landscape that once laid under the ocean.

In this way, Deep Time Geology of Spoleto does not only bring attention to the geological history of these stones, but to the processes of faulting, uplift and orogenesis that formed the environment in which Spoleto is situated.