HEAVY METAL (2010)
HEAVY METAL is a slender golden ring attached to a very large rock, a little mountain of granite. Together the rock and the ring illustrate the other side of the “gold coin” of gold mining: that nature is laid waste to satisfy some people’s need for decoration.
The combination of high gold prices and cheap labour means that in third-world countries it is now profitable to extract gold from very low-grade veins – yielding as little as 1 gram of gold per ton of gold-bearing ore. Thus, for every gram of gold extracted it is necessary to quarry one ton of ore, which is typically crushed completely in the process of extracting the gold. In the Nalunaq Mine in Greenland the gold content is higher; here, by comparison, some 18 grams of gold can be extracted from every ton of ore. But even with a gold content this high, it is debatable whether the environmental consequences that gold mining has for nature are reasonable compared with the gain.
HEAVY METAL’s slender fine-gold ring weighs 1 gram, the accompanying rock 125 kg; this corresponds to the 125 kg of ore that must be processed in order to gain 1 gram of gold. HEAVY METAL is based on an average gold content level, estimated in cooperation with a geologist. By comparison, a classic wedding band weighs about 5 grams, thus “costing” 625 kg crushed rock.
In my personal opinion, one of the root causes of many of the environmental problems we are facing today is modern man’s ignorance about the production processes behind many things. HEAVY METAL addresses this ignorance. HEAVY METAL highlights that the cost of gold is far higher than the price we pay for it in the world market, and the question is whether even the most passionate gold enthusiast can bear the burden of so much crushed rock on his or her conscience.
Today, in our part of the world we typically view nature as a tool and consider it our right to command nature. But should we not view nature as something that has a justification in itself?
HEAVY METAL was made for Danish Crafts’ exhibition “MINDCRAFT 10 - WOULD YOU MIND?” in Milan in 2010.