The Iron Ring – Cecilia Jonsson

Exhibition | Suitable for everyone

Summer exhibition at TEKS – Trondheim Elektroniske Kunstsenter

Mixed media installation: Imperata cylindrica grass / Iron artefacts / Video projection / Book

While “green mining” aims for a more ecological approach to mining metals, The Iron Ring explores how contaminated mining grounds may benefit from the mining of metals. For The Iron Ring, 24 kg of iron-tainted grass was removed from contaminated mining grounds and transformed into a ring of 2 g metallic iron.

Iron is considered very important to life in general and has a lower toxicity than other metals. Extensive or abandoned metal mines and industrial activities have, however, caused metal releases into the ecosystem to accelerate and reach toxic levels. So-called iron hyper-accumulating plants are tolerant to inorganic iron and can grow on these degraded grounds. There they extract the metal from the soil to store it in very high concentrations inside their roots, stems and leaves. The means of “cleaning” the polluted soil however, is a periodical commitment that relies on human interaction: harvest. The plants’ metal enriched biomass (in other words, their contaminated biological materials) needs to be removed from the ground before the plants by season wilt and the extracted metal reverts back to the soil. So that after the harvest is removed, new sprouts can grow to continue the decontamination process.

The project elaborates on the possibilities to utilise the cleansing process of the naturalised, wild growing grass: Imperata cylindrica. An invasive vile weed, which overlooked tolerance and ability to hyper accumulate iron inside its roots, stems and leaves are left un-utilised. The Iron Ring proposes to harvest the grass for the purpose of extracting the ore that is inside them. The result is a scenario for iron mining that, instead of furthering destruction, could actually contribute to the environmental rehabilitation of abandoned metal mines.

The Iron Ring installation takes a visitor through the project’s trials and failures, in a process of close collaboration with smiths, scientists, technicians and farmers met along the way. The installation consists of artefacts and video documentation that reports on the seven chronological steps that were required to create an iron ring out of 24 kg of grass harvested from the acidic river banks of a landscape in Spain severely transformed by opencast mining.

The Iron Ring  is developed with support from | The Iron Ring is developed with support from: PNEK – Produksjonsnettverk for elektronisk kunst / V2_ Institute for Unstable Media / Norsk Kulturråd.

Special thanks to: Linda Tulldahl / Silvia Czaia / Antonio Serrano / Laboratory Services International / Eric Hulsman / Thijs van de Manakker / Marnix de Nijs / Eva Brita Åkerlund / Odd B. Gaustad, Rolls-Royce Bergen Foundry / Toni Bogdanoff & Esbjörn Ollas, School of Engineering, Jönköping University.

Cecilia Jonsson (1980 SE/NO) is a visual artist whose research-based projects spans from installation, sculpture, sound, image and kinetic works. Her work is informed by scientific methods and often consists of site-specific, artistic interpretations of phenomena and processes of nature. The projects are developed as investigations of physical and ideological properties of the raw materials that form the basis of human existence, from origins deep down in the earth, to the extraction, transformation and global exploitation.

Opening hours: 
Sunday 16th – Wednesday 19th, 12:00 – 18:00
Free entrance

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