HEAVY KINSHIP vol. 7: Extraction and Care
Fieldwork, research and participatory work-sharing at the Su'surfuru mine
Fluminimaggiore, Sardinia, July 2022
Part of Breath Days Festival
Documentation by Laura Farneti/Le Pomme Photo for Giornate del Respiro
The Su Zurfuru mine was discovered in 1889, and leased for the cultivation of lead and zinc until1905. During that time, new very high-tech machinery of considerable importance for the historical period was installed.
Among them a new washery with an extraordinary flotation plant and, above all, the first hydroelectric generator in Sardinia, which exploited the strength and capacity of the water coming from the nearby Pubusinu spring.
In 1927 the company created a cable transport system, which allowed the transfer of wastewater from the washery to the opposite mountain side, so that it was not poured directly into the stream causing water pollution and controversy among the farmers and inhabitants of Fluminimaggiore.
For a long period Su Zurfuru remained inactive, except for the electricity generator and the flotation plant. However, in 1949, the mine concentrated its productivity on the extraction of a mineral that has since been ignored and defined as waste material: Fluorite.
The mine definitively closed its sites in 1993.
In my work with the mine, I explored how the relationship between the human bodies of the workers, the body of the mountain and the dynamics of extraction have shaped both landscapes and humans over time. I conducted dialogues with the miners and the landscape and researched the material, societal, economic end existential implications of the mining industry. As a response I developed a participatory performative exploration of intimate, curious and caring encounters between human bodies and the mineral bodies of the mine, acknowledging the material and embodied effects of extractive logics and exploring reciprocal exchanges. The journey was both meditative and full of reflections as it put into question how we as humans relate to, shape and are shaped by our surroundings.
“...our bodies always extend and connect to other bodies, human and non-human, to practices, techniques, technologies and objects which produce different kinds of bodies and different ways, arguably, of enacting what it means to be human. The idea of the body as simply something we both have and are is displaced in this perspective as the focus shifts to what bodies can do, what bodies could become, what practices enable and coordinate the doing of particular kinds of bodies, and what this makes possible in terms of our approach to questions about life, humanness, culture, power, technology and subjectivity. These are some of the themes.... which radically refigure the idea of the body as substance or entity and even as distinctly human.”
(Lisa Blackman, The Body).