The Iron Ring

installation by Cecilia Jonsson

Atelier Nord ANX

21.11-07.12.14
Opening hours: Thursday – Sunday 1-6 pm.

Welcome to the exhibition opening on the 20th of November 7-9 pm.

Atelier Nord is pleased to present Cecilia Jonsson´s installation The Iron Ring at Atelier Nord ANX. 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, 24kg of iron-tainted grass was removed from contaminated mining grounds and transformed into a ring of 2g 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 hyperaccumulating 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 utilize the cleansing process of the naturalized, 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 unutilized. 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 24kg of grass harvested from the acidic river banks of a landscape in Spain severely transformed by opencast mining.

In addition to the exhibit, a book documenting The Iron Ring project will be launched in a limited print edition. It will contain a visual essay on the process behind the project as well as a text discussing the project from an ecological perspective. The book also contains a text by professor James Jackson, discussing the project from an environmental-philosophical perspective.

The Iron Ring was made possible with support from PNEK, V2_Institute the Unstable Media, Arts Council Norway, Norske Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond and Bergen Municipality.

Cecilia Jonsson (b 1980 Stockholm, Sweden) lives and works in Bergen. She is a multidisciplinary artist whose research resides in the tension between organic and inanimate matter. Inspired by research methods 
used in the natural sciences, Jonsson’s work often involves the creation of artistic interpretations of empirical material. Plants, water and iron are central to several of her works, in which these elements operate as figures in imagined slippages between nature and technology, and between environmental concerns and social culture.

The Iron Ring