warehouse warehouse

The Sickening Abyss Assets series#1

by Nieves de la Fuente Gutierrez
The top of the mountain at home was mined away during the 19th century under the leadership of one of the biggest mining companies in the world: The Rio Tinto Company Limited, an association of British businessmen. The RTCL administrated and occupied the territory acting like a colonial enterprise, building a relationship of dependence with its workers. Meanwhile, due to the low pureness of the mine’s extracted copper, the system of refinement used (prohibited in Britain long time before) was called locally “Teleras”. They consisted in burning the minerals in pyramids. The most part of the sulfur from the minerals was burned and the other parts of iron, copper and a sulfur rest, transformed in salts easier to dissolve in water. The result was brought to tanks of water where the salts of copper and iron dissolved for nine days. Afterwards iron ingots were plunged in these waters to get covered by a coppered shell. This shell was the precious metal that took almost half a year to produce. For one tonne of copper were needed 2,7 tonnes of iron. The miners in charge of transporting the burned mineral could get respiratory affections and sickness that lasted from two to seven days. The symptoms were: fiber, stomach pain, vomits, dyspnea or conjunctivitis. With this kind of sickness produced by the intrinsic work in the mine and not by, for example, an accident, they weren’t accepted in the mine’s hospital, having to go to the provincial one.

The “public utility of the calcinations” was proved by experts (most of them controlled by RTCL) and accepted by the Spanish Government. Apparently they were not dangerous for the population. In 1890, in order to prove that this system was not risky at all, the RTCL invited a group of scientists from the capital of the kingdom, Madrid, to experience by themselves the consequences of burning sulfuric minerals. I found their report, an affected, paternalistic and colonialist documentation on the healthy air of the mine. I couldn’t leave but the “places for breathing”, ornaments on the old text, that allow me to escape the reading. I left the margins, the frontiers and the only empty abyss to hold on with my respiration in a document on banning the miner’s right to breathe.

Nieves de la Fuente Gutierrez

Madrid, 1988*. Study at UCM (Madrid) and Kunsthochschule Kassel. Postgraduate study at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne (2013-16). Exhibited at EMAF’17, BBK Room, Matjö (2016, solo), Animafest Zagreb’16, Werkleitz’15, Meinblau Berlin (2015), Art Cologne’15… The project “Caracaballo” is shortlisted at “digitale Skulptur 2016” Ulm. In 2014 Promotion Price awarded by the Academy of Arts Cologne and artistic residency in Montepulciano, Italy. In 2015, artistic residency in Montréal, Canada.