In What is Mine, the process of extraction comes to the fore through works that investigate the logistical developments of the global mining industry and their impact on localities and communities. Playing on the multiple meaning of mine as both the term for the extraction of valuable resources from the Earth and a pronoun declaring possession of an entity or an object, this chapter brings into view broader issues of both the material aftermath of mining and the immaterial operations of how land is transmuted into capital.
Chapter One: What is Mine consists of the films Europium, Mangeurs de Cuivre, The Most Beautiful Catastrophe, and The Magic Mountain.
Chapter One: Part I
Europium (2014), dir. Lisa Raves
Interweaving various layers of imagery and text, Europium is an essay film by artist and filmmaker Lisa Rave that analyses history’s repeating patterns in the complex interplay of culture, economy and ecology. The rare earth element lending the work its title literally makes the film appear to viewers as it does, pointing to the material traces of human interventions in geological strata as defining properties of the things and technologies we surround ourselves with.
Mangeurs de Cuivre (2016), dir. Bodil Furu
Examining the landscapes, histories and stakeholders of copper extraction in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mangeurs de Cuivre, or Copper Eaters, is a documentary by artist and filmmaker Bodil Furu that probes at the complex politics of mineral mining, and the ways they intersect with local histories and communities. In this film, Furu weaves legends, rituals, and sticky networks of actors with differing interests in the riches of the ground to explore the local dimensions of the global economy.
Chapter One: Part II
The Most Beautiful Catastrophe (2018), dir. APART Collective
Centred around the Kosovsko-Laskár wetlands in Central-Western Slovakia which are newly emerging wetlands and marshes in Slovakia that formed as a by-product of the underground extraction of coal near the Nitra river, The Most Beautiful Catastrophe is a short documentary by Slovakian artist cooperative APART that explores the environmental impact of coal mining in western Slovakia. Documenting the landscape that has changed over four decades of extractions, a new and unusual habitat has formed as a way for nature to find balance with the radical change of the ecosystem, all captured and discussed in poetic ways by APART.
The Magic Mountain (2020), dir. Eitan Efrat and Daniel Mann
Where landscapes are traditionally understood as two-dimensional representations, and as backdrops for grand anthropogenic histories, The Magic Mountain is a documentary by Eitan Efrat and Daniel Mann that dwells on the material substrate that makes up the territory, and on the sometimes invisible and undetectable vibrant energies that actively participate in the doing and undoing of history. Zooming in on the surface of the land and entering into the ground itself where vision is utterly diminished, the film tackles the very limits of its own, confronting the inherent failure of capturing nature as a definitive picture. Where sight is obscured, vision also implies reworking experience in the world through imagination, and imagination’s expression in the creation of images.