location / date: Parys Mountain, Wales (December 2015); Ambika P3, London (1 – 5 February 2017); the City of London, Parys Mountain (March 2017 — )
with araucaria araucanas, carbon-dioxide, copper, Mynydd Parys, Duško Jelen, Isidora Spasović Lebović, Tuomas A. Laitinen
(Fig. 3.86 – 3.89; 5.01. – 5.14.)
Parys mountain (Mynydd Parys) lies on the isle of Anglesey in North Wales. It’s as close as one can get to Mars. Not because it is a rocket launchpad, but because it was thoroughly dug for copper over centuries. First traces of mining date to the Bronze Age, around 1,500 BC. Perhaps Romans tried their tools here too. The mountain was explored and mined occasionally in the 16th and 17th centuries, but with the discovery of a major ore body dates to 2nd of March, 1768, Parys is put on the map of the Empire. From then, two leases and two mines, Mona and Parys, grew to become the largest supplier of copper in the British Isles by 1800 (and, according to some accounts, in the world). The gradual decline of production lead to their closure at the beginning of the 20th century.
Extractivist spirits do not sit still. From 1955 on, various companies drilled bore holes around the red mountain. The mountain is now property of Anglesey Mining plc, which has continued these explorations discovering zinc, copper and lead reserves, but they are too low-grade to allow re-opening the mine in present conditions. In the meanwhile, the stocks of Anglesey Mining Plc are floated in the London South East exchange. It is one of the dormant companies whose stocks are not of great interest at the present moment, but if they struck another ore body, and/or if the market price of zinc soars, relatively quickly new drills might roll up the hill again. As of now, the mountain is mostly known as a tourist site on the European Route of Industrial Heritage. It would be good if it stayed that way.
The performance will try to encourage withdrawal of extractive interests from Parys mountain through a site-specific performance, a poetic twitter stream, and a materialisation in London. The polymorphous work will encourage unforgetting the Parys Mountain, as well as many other red mountains that have been disappeared: Tilva Roš at Bor, Buenavista del Cobre in Mexico, a multitude of other earth others that made the capitalist globe spin. Withdrawing through refusing to forget mountains peopled by ‘unique, individual’ matters, desiring-machines of multispecies confederations hybrid intra-actions breakbeat diffractions unearthly symbioses dances to dance beyond anthropos.
The viva examination show worked within the subterranean cave of Ambika P3 to occupy it and withdraw the strata of modernity1, and to interconnect it with places of extraction, Parys mountain and the City of London. The show brought various bodies that do not belong to culture into the cultural space without representing them, and to pose questions around the validity of such artistic practice. In the show were re-assembled two constellations of works developed throughout the research: first, a group of works occupied by photosynthesis and carbon trading (dancing ecologies, grow buy cut sell, black box white paper, all that is air melts into city), and, second, the works concerned with extraction (#copper #love #maintenance, mineralizacija). Through the works, the exhibition summoned three realms of mattering: atmosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere.
Extra-human bodies present were: a group of chipped ore borrowed from Mynydd Parys, a number of monkey puzzle seedlings (Chilean pine, araucaria araucana)2, topsoil, blue slate chippings, a solution of copper(II)-oxide and crystals. These bodies were variously disposed on top of and around nineteen yoga mats, hand-made patchworks produced by Isidora Spasović Lebović. Yoga-patchworks featured a collection of images that have been produced in various projects over the last years: green clouds, pink trees, geological (counter)mapping patterns of Finland, and rocks of Rudna Glava. Patchworking and quilting were invoked as nomadic practices (DG, 1987: 476-77), qualities embodied in yoga mats’ temporal territorialisations.
The main hall of the space was occupied by nineteen yoga mats, twenty-two piles of topsoil with eleven araucarias planted in them, as well as twenty-nine piles of blue slate mixed with Mynydd Parys ore. On the walls were displayed three numbers formed by A4 papers: 412.57 (particles of CO2 per million, the average measurement taken over all that is air melts into city), 0.955 (US dollars: the value of copper if it was to be extracted from the copper ore in the space, according to London Metals Exchange index on 25 January 2017), and 0.086 (EUR: the value of carbon if it were extracted from the araucarias present, according to the value at the EU ETS on 25 January 2017).
The lower section contained a four-screen installation of mineralizacija (fig. 3.86 – 3.88), and in the middle of the space, #copper #love #machine was hung, tied by a dozen of straps to the architectural frame of the gallery (fig. 3.87, 3.88). The video output of the weheartcopperheartus.co was projected on the floor, over different recycled pieces of metals that i recovered from e-recycling factory at Niš, as well as rocks reassembled in previous performances (fig. 3.89).
The audience was invited to use the mats and touch and be touched by the bodies present with these words: “feel free to share the mats and timespace with the burning hearts of a thousand tiny matters, in ‘loving perception’”. This was an invite for the visitors to, yes, territorialise on yoga-patchworks, and, unlike the usual yoga practices, to share them with other bodies, araucaria araucanas and copper ore, soil and rocks.
The show opened with a three-hour performance to the sound of Tuomas A. Laitinen’s Music for matter, especially composed for this occasion, and made of three parts: Movement I (Photosynthesis), Movement II (Copper Drone), and Movement III (Metal to Air). Correspondingly, the performance unpanned through three movements, re-telling and re-enacting actions and stories from the previous projects. In the first movement i told stories of plant life and labour, and performing ‘shining breathing’ with araucaria araucanas by lighting them with permaculture LED lights to simulate sunshine (since we were in a sunlight-less underground gallery) (fig. 5.07., 5.12.). The second movement told the story of the EU carbon trading market, and i performed yan-tyan-tether counting of CO2 measured in the gallery, as well as ‘lithic yoga’ exercises (fig. 5.10.). In the third movement i performed ‘reassembling healing’ of the copper ore by cementing the pieces together, and adding small crystals of copper(II)-oxide between the chippings of ore to encourage (fig. 5.08., 5.09, 5.11). Periodically through the performance i was doing general ‘art maintenance’ (re-enacting Mierle Laderman-Ukeles’s performance): sweeping and cleaning the gallery, rearranging the lumps of topsoil and rocks. I have continued to periodically perform these actions throughout the exhibition.
The performance did not finish when the show ended, it was only a segment in a larger becoming. The next stage of performance will take place outside the show itself, and beyond the timeframe of the doctoral research itself. Chilean pines will be taken on a tour through the City of London to visit the seat of the ICE Futures Europe. Correspondingly, healed rocks will take a walk with me to visit the seat of London Metals Exchange, where their presents and futures are being traded. (This is a re-enactment/-(con)figuration of Joseph Beuys’s How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare performance where he was showing art to a dead rabbit.)
Eventually, the rocks will be spread around Finsbury Square, the green space in front of the London Metal Exchange. There they should be (relatively) safe from another round of mining, and they can continue to ‘witness’ the geological processes happening in the City. The araucaria araucana seedlings will be planted back on the Parys Mountain, evoking Chilean landscapes of (post-)extraction and invoking a solidarity spreading across hemispheres. In this way, trees and rocks will have briefly transitioned through the gallery (art/research apparatus) to then leave towards other becomings, with and without humans.
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- The space, now an art gallery, was initially a hall used for testing concrete, and trucks were driven through it, thus it belongs to the strata of fossil industries.
- Chilean pines evoked histories of colonization of Americas, and especially the fact that Chile is home to world’s largest mines of copper.