This VR film contrasts two natural resources, two locations, and two layers in time. The common denominator is mining—and the traces it leaves behind in landscapes and communities. On the one hand, we have the depleted coal mines of Germany’s Ruhr region, where the long-term consequences of mining activity are emerging. On the other, we have the still-active mines in Democratic Republic of the Congo, where coltan—essential for the manufacture of smartphones and other devices—is being extracted from the earth.
The moment they arrive at the quarry, workers are pitted against each other to work for the lowest price. Mining provides economic opportunities for women as well, be it under often even more exploitative conditions. The mercilessly tough physical work carried out by humans is contrasted against the empty landscapes of the Ruhr region, where immense machines and dams are used to hold back the encroaching water.
These two intertwined works are part of a larger project in which local artists and thinkers in various places around the world reflect on humanity’s ruthless exploitation of both the Earth and itself.Water & Coltan is also presented during the event DocLab Live: Liminal Systems.