Dark Mountain: Issue 20 – ABYSS


Our Autumn 2021 journal is a special all-colour collection of art and writing that delves into the legacy of extractivism


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Our twentieth book brings an uncivilised eye to the mindset of extractivism.

Dark Mountain: Issue 20 – ABYSS delves deep into civilisation’s plunder of Earth. This all-colour strikingly illustrated issue reveals the hidden assault behind our technocratic lifestyle: on mountains, on trees, water, creatures and human beings, as extractvism’s insatiable drive for natural resources fuels a seemingly endless expansion in consumption.

From the hacked, fracked and exploded ground of the American West to tin mines in Cornwall and oil wells in Tajikistan; from 17th-century Dutch colonialism in Indonesia’s Banda Islands to an activist escapade in New Zealand’s Great South Basin; from lithium ponds in the Atacama Desert to the vanished rainforests of Borneo, over 60 writers and artists bear witness to this global pillage, as well as the pushback by communities and indigenous people in defence of their homelands.

In ABYSS, Alnoor Ladha and Martin Kirk write that we are living in the age of wetiko, an Algonquin term for a cannibalistic spirit that spreads like a virus. In South Africa, Sage Freda writes of how environmental and human exploitation are inextricably linked; the more we wreck and ravage the Earth, the more deeply we damage ourselves. As wetiko spreads across the world, all of us – and all other species – end up living and dying in the sacrifice zone.

But this book also asks: how do we remain fully human while so much  around us is being destroyed, especially as we (at least, some of us) enjoy so many of the material benefits that devastation brings? The fiction and poetry in this book navigate this tricky terrain, from Claire Wahmanholm’s haunting depictions of glaciers melting on the page to Tacey Atsitty’s wrenching depiction of the poisoned water supplies of the Diné in the American Southwest. Meanwhile, the art confronts us with the real cost of human interference: beginning with Lawrence Gipe’s stunning cover of a Siberian diamond mine, and ending with Aboriginal artist Betty Muffler’s post-nuclear work, Healing Country, that shows the scale and beauty of the Earth repair required.

Inspired by the CODEX Foundation’s project EXTRACTION: Art on the Edge of the Abyss, Dark Mountain’s 20th issue plumbs the depths of the pit we have dug in order to see how deep we have gone, and where we might go from here.

To celebrate Dark Mountain 20’s release, we invite you to join us for an online launch on Thursday 21st October starting at 19:00 BST. Tickets are limited so you’ll need to register to ensure a place – just follow this link. We hope to see you there!


Writers:  Tacey M. Atsitty, Negar Elodie Behzadi, Matthew Cooperman,  Bart Crezee, Will Falk, Paul Feather, Siana FitzJohn, Sage Frieda, Amitav Ghosh, Fiona Glen, Christie Green, Erika Howsare, Derrick Jensen, Nick Hunt, Bhanu Kapil, Lierre Keith, Alnoor Ladha, Jay Lovekin, Michael McLane, Henrik Olav Mathiesen, Natassja Noell, Rob Percival, Shaun Pett, Sophia Pickles, Joanna Pocock,  Dr Conohar Scott, Molly Sturdevant, Claire Wahmanholm, Max Wilbert, Ben Walter, Philip Webb Gregg

Artists: Jamie Allen, Deru Anding, Tom Baskeyville, Jaime Black, William T. Carson,  Jim Carter, David Ellingsen,  Kate Jessop, Eva Joly, Jon Jost, David Lauer, Anika Nixdorf, Lauren Redniss, Rebecca Riley, Bridget Rountree, Christopher Volpe

Extraction artists and poets: Christopher Benson, Nina Berman, Christopher Boyer, Craig Czury, Elena Dorfman, Erin Espelie, David Gardner, Lawrence Gipe, Ilka Hartmann, Jane Hirshfield, Basia Irland, Hikmet Sydney Loe, David Maisel, Laura McPhee, Richard Misrach, Betty Muffler, Annemarie Ní Churreáin, Bob Nugent, Paccarik Orue, Erika Osborne, Arthur Sze, Tess Taylor, Erin Vink, Michelle Waters, Will Wilson

Editors: Nick Hunt, Joanna Pocock. Steve Wheeler, Michael McClane (poetry) and Charlotte Du Cann (art). Contributing editor: Tom Smith. The book was co-produced by Charlotte Du Cann and Nick Hunt.

Cover: No 2 Russian Drone Painting (Mir Diamond Mine, Siberia) by Lawrence Gipe


Dark Mountain: Issue 20 – ABYSS is a hardback book, 248 pages long, printed on FSC-certified paper



Additional information

Weight .6 kg
Dimensions 24 × 16 × 2.0 cm