LONG DROP INTO WATER
This context-specific project was commissioned by “Iteration: Again”, a series of artistic interventions based on a methodological and curatorial premise: the projects should be presented publicly in four different phases of their material and discursive development.
My proposal developed around two physical poles: on the one hand, the Taroona tower, an emblematic construction dating the early stages of the industrial era in Tasmania, and Rosebery, a remote mining town built around a controversial mine currently managed by MMG.
The tower, which for decades was the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, was erected for a very specific function: the manufacture of lead shot, following the method invented by William Watts, a Bristol plumber who died in poverty after his discovery was taken from him and capitalised on by more business savvy individuals. The system devised by Watts, which he claimed to have conceived during a drunken dream, consisted of the pouring of molten lead from a considerable height, so that the drops of lead, falling on a water container located in the lower part of the tower, acquired a perfect spherical shape, caused by air friction. This simple idea revolutionised ammunition production in its day. To make the resulting pellets hard enough for its intended use, antimony and arsenic were added to the lead alloy. The Taroona Tower is now a tourist spot.
The other pole of the project, the town of Rosebery, was at the time the center of an intense debate (despite local media silence) about the public health problems caused by extensive mining. A group of residents of Rosebery had denounced the mining company when they discovered that they were poisoned by arsenic, a by-product present in the rubble from the mine, on which their houses had been built. Extremely high levels of heavy metals were also detected in the water sources of the region.
In his series of 4 interventions, I drew lines of communication and material displacements between these two locations, articulating in the process a critical discourse on the official brand image of Tasmania as a pristine paradise for high end tourists, Australia’s economic dependence of mining and the long term consequences of productivist models.