Rare Earth (2021)

 

HD Video with Sound

Rare Earth is a film, photography, sculpture and text installation documenting a visit to the Baotou rare-earth mineral field and tailings dam in Inner Mongolia, China, where the earth is poisoned beyond comprehension; a meditation on technological progress, environmental destruction and our ultimate destiny as a species. 

A huge percentage of the world's rare earth minerals, essential for the manufacture of smart phones and various communications technology, come from the mineral fields of Inner Mongolia, where China's loose environmental protection restrictions permit the violent extractive processes required to obtain the minerals. Baotou Steel is a vast industrial hellscape and is centred around the Weikuang tailings dam - a horizon of toxic fluid produced as a waste product from extraction. The dam is a vision into a nightmarish future, where technology and human expansion has poisoned the earth and skies. Using Hong Kong philosopher Yuk Hui’s notion of 'cosmotechnics' as a departure, the work documents the landscape of Inner Mongolia to explore the ethics of rampant human growth, examining how traditional knowledge and sustainability, evidenced in Hui’s appraisal of traditional Chinese Taoist thought, compares to the ethos of modernity and unmitigated technological expansion. Looking out at the expanse of the dam, we see a human cosmological praxis out of touch from its centre, with a visceral dissonance in  contemplating our reliance on smartphone technology. Filmed on location in Baotou, this work was made in mentorship with Beijing-based artist Shen Shaomin and with assistance from 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney. 

Coming soon.
 

O death! O death, rock me asleep.

Bring me on quiet rest.

Let pass my weary guiltless ghost, out of my careful breast.

Toll on the passing bell, ring out the doleful knell,

Let the sound of my death tell, let the sound of my death tell,

For I must die, there is no remedy.

My pains, my pains, who can express?
Alas, they are so strong.

My dolour will not suffer strength.

Toll on the passing bell, ring out the doleful knell,

Let the sound of my death tell, let the sound of my death tell,

For I must die, there is no remedy.


Alone, alone in prison strong, I wait my destiny.
Wo, worth this cruel hap, that I must taste this misery.

Toll on the passing bell, ring out the doleful knell,

Let the sound of my death tell, let the sound of my death tell,

For I must die, there is no remedy.


Farewell my pleasures past, welcome my present pain.
I feel my torments so increase, that life cannot remain.

Cease now the passing bell, rung is my doleful knell.
For the sound my death tell, for the sound my death tell.
Death doth draw nigh, sound my end dolefully.
For now I die, for now I die.

-  Anne Boleyn, "O Death Rock Me Asleep".

(Written awaiting her execution in the Tower of London, 1536.)

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