Exploitation of Natural Resources: Mining of Rocks, Minerals and Coal
Apr. 9th – Jul. 2nd 2022
In 2019, our Foundation opened to the public the first section of Artphilein Library in Lugano: the photobooks. The library’s acquisition policy is guided by the research fields on which our Foundation focuses its activities. Among these, prominence is given to the analysis of the relationship between humans and our planet, of how much we modify, shape, consume and destroy it.
The photobooks exploring the exploitation of natural resources – of which the first chapter, "Rock, Mineral and Coal Mining", is on show – have been collected in over fifteen years of concentrated research. The books on display deal with mining landscapes, extraction methods, mines both in service and disused, industrial and artisanal exploitation, people, working conditions, machinery, processing and the transformation of raw materials, as well as environmental and social impact. The selection presented here is the narrative of this investigation, a provisional account. It is also a testimony to the expressive power of the photobook – in its reconciliation of images with texts, in its potential and wide range of approaches – as well as to the possibility for a library, adopting a specific selection criterion to choose from the vast range of past and recent publications, to create a story to propose, an invitation to reflect on the natural resources, such as rocks, minerals and coal, to be found on every continent and exploited since ancient times (the first mining activity of hematite is thought to date back over 40,000 years).
This first Artphilein Dossier records the selected photobooks by presenting the covers, in alphabetical by title, accompanied with classification info and texts by the curators Joerg Bader and Diego Stephani, sharing their impressions and considerations on this specific and very particular subset of the photobooks’ collection of Artphilein Library.
"Abandoned Mines" by Mishka Henner – the last image in this Artphilein Dossier – was realised at the request of our Foundation as a visual condensation of this first chapter: it is a map of a fictitious island filled with the remains of mining operations, precious metals, and the toxic consequences of an industry central to the development of our civilisation.
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