Museum Intervention, 2014
polymer gels, paper and collection
Black Diamond Dust, Nanaimo Museum, BC
In the curatorial statement presented by Jesse Birch, “Black Diamond Dust is a multi-site art exhibition, which considers the sedimentary nature of stories and histories. The title Black Diamond Dust refers to the coal mining industry that Nanaimo was built upon; an industry that both formed and fragmented communities through economic development, racial segregation and labour inequity, and served as the foundation of global industrialization.” Working with the history of labour, while considering both the local and the forms of cultural expression that surround global industrial practices I developed a series of freestanding concrete sculptures Mauve Ghosts along with an intervention in the Nanaimo Museum. Through site visits and research into the type of coal mined in Nanaimo I was able to link that it was the same type of coal that produced coal tar, which was used in the accidental discovery of the first synthetic dye ever produced in the world- mauve. Shortly after its arrival it became the colour of the decade in the 1890s and was seen being worn by the creative class and was used in a variety of printing processes. A second by-product of the coal excavated in Nanaimo was that it was also used in fueling steam engines to deliver high amounts of energy needed for concrete production. Drawing from this, the use of concrete was absolutely essential for the project and, it is here that the pitch-black colour of coal was allowed to drift to its by-product state both as a synthetic colour and into a material state that it fueled into being – concrete. Since the original location for this colour was cited in textiles all of the cast forms became draped textiles, which ghosted bodies or sculptures of antiquity rising above the everyday objects of cinderblocks on rebar allowing the colour to spring forward from the depths of mines.