Seeing into Stone

Anika Schwarzlose

This solo exhibition consists of a major short film and resulting book publication. The artist filmed on site in the remote Ural Mountains of Russia, a geological boundary that divides the regions of Europe and Asia. The work was first presented as part of  the 5th Ural Industrial Biennial in Russia. These collected audio and visual fragments have been translated into a book in collaboration with her research partner Brian D. McKenna.

This book is a time travel through past and present, above and below ground. Landscapes, impacted and even created by resource extraction are put into context with contemporary industrial mining equipment and historical cast iron utilitarian goods. Through the combination of images from very different archives, connections are made that speak about the complex relationships of humans and minerals. Images and texts contribute to a debate on mineral and human coevolution, that redefines the separation between life and non-life. 

Seeing into Stone (2022) describes a technique applied by experienced stone carvers, when they work on sculptural objects: before they start cutting into a stone they contemplate its surface to anticipate the structure and natural growth beneath it. This ritual of looking into opaque matter describes a spiritual practice. At the same time it functions as a metaphor for a special kind of tunnel vision, focused on what lies invisible under a surface.     

Machine Mineral Extracts (2021) is a two channel installation. Geologists are presently finding new, previously unknown minerals in regions that are shaped and impacted by large-scale resource extraction. Those minerals occur in slag heaps, which heat up internally and in this way become quasi artificial volcanoes. The mineral transformations, induced by human activity, generate transformative and mutational processes in biological life. A cycle which inspires thoughts on mineral and human coevolution and contributes to a debate that redefines the separation between life and non-life. By weaving together digital and biological processes, mining machines and mineral matter, the video explores an animistic or organicist approach to our relationship with the world.

Machine Mineral Extracts is made by Anika Schwarzlose, 1982, Berlin (DE)
in collaboration with Brian D. McKenna, 1975, Ottawa (CA)