Smithson's "Asphalt Rundown" in "Mining Photography" exhibition at MK&G Hamburg

Imagery and digitized film of Robert Smithson's earthwork Asphalt Rundown (1969) is currently on view in the exhibition Mining Photography: The Ecological Footprint of Image Production at Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg. Mining Photography examines the relationship between photography and extractive industries. 

From MK&G: "Ever since its invention, photography has depended on the global extraction and exploitation of so-called natural resources. In the early 19th century, these were salt, fossil fuels such as bitumen and carbon, as well as copper and silver, which were all used for the first images on copper plates and for salt paper prints. By the late 20th century, the photographic industry was one of the most important consumers of silver, responsible, at its peak, for about a quarter of the metal’s global consumption. Today, with the advent of digital photography and the ubiquity of mobile devices, image production is contingent on rare earths and metals such as coltan, cobalt, and europium. Image storage and distribution also consume immense amounts of energy. One scholar recently observed that Americans produce more photographs every two minutes than were made in the entire nineteenth century.

"Mining Photography: The Ecological Footprint of Image Production is dedicated to the material history of key resources used for image production, addressing the social and political context of their extraction and waste and its relation to climate change. Using historical photographs and contemporary artistic positions as well as interviews with restorers, geologists, and climate researchers, the exhibition tells the story of photography as one of industrial production, showing the extent to which the medium has been deeply intertwined with human change of the environment. By focusing on the ways by which industrial image production has been materially and ideologically implicated in climate change, rather merely using it to depict its consequences, the exhibition employs a radically new perspective towards this subject."

The exhibition is curated by artist, author and curator Boaz Levin and Dr. Esther Ruelfs, Head of the Photography and New Media Collection at MK&G. In cooperation with Kunsthaus WienGewerbemuseum Winterthur and the HFBK HamburgMining Photography is on view through October 31, 2022.

Installation view: Robert Smithson's Asphalt Rundown in the exhibition Mining Photography: The Ecological Footprint of Image Production, MK&G Hamburg, Germany, 2022
 

Archived News

Holt/Smithson Foundation Joins the World Weather Network

In response to the global climate emergency, Holt/Smithson Foundation has joined twenty-seven arts organizations across the world to form the World Weather Network, a ground-breaking constellation of “weather stations” located across the world in oceans, deserts, mountains, farmland, rainforests, observatories, lighthouses, and cities. 

Wednesday Writings: Chapter Two

We are delighted to launch Chapter Two of our digital program, Wednesday Writings. During Chapter Two we will focus on writings by Robert Smithson. Every Wednesday in June we will be publishing a text by Smithson to his collection of writings on our website.

"Nancy Holt / Inside Outside" at Bildmuseet

We are very pleased to announce the exhibition Nancy Holt / Inside Outside launches this June, produced by Bildmuseet, one of Sweden’s foremost contemporary art venues. The exhibition explores the artist’s rich artistic legacy through a selection of works spanning 1967 to 1992. This is the most ambitious exhibition of her work to date. Perceptions and demarcations of being "inside" and "outside" guide this survey exhibition.