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Laurium: a dialogue, 2021

Edward Gwyn Jones & Alkmini Gkousiari
Single channel HD video and stereo sound, English subtitles
Custom pine and aluminium seating

Watch: HERE

Exhibitions: HOT WHEELS, GSA MFA Showcase, The Glue Factory, Glasgow, 24-27 June 2021
Online: COOL DOWN Projects, The Pipe Factory, Glasgow, COP26, 30 October – 14 November 2021
Laurium: a dialogue is a collaborative film by Edward Gwyn Jones and Alkmini Gkousiari, which ruminates on proximity, movement, and language through Alkmini’s visit to an ancient silver mine in Laurium, Greece. The film embraces the inherent loss and labyrinth of miscommunication between Alkmini and Edward in their attempt to translate the entangled sensations, histories, and stories articulated by the mine.

everything is about to fall over

The mines in Laurium, Greece, are some of the oldest in the world. They were first used for the extraction of silver by slave labour for Ancient Greek coinage. The mines were pursued later, in the 19th century, for lead and manganese mining, before closing in the 1970s. In the 21st century the mines have become popular with adventurers and rare mineral collectors. These adventurers are guided by a meshwork of oral knowledges and online videos.

i was always between the two men

i didn’t want to be at the front or at the back

In the ancient tunnels beneath Laurium’s surface the miners’ carbon drawings and industrial remnants now live alongside the artefacts of adventurers, who navigate the labyrinth using personalised trails of breadcrumbs. Spray paint, plastic tape, photographs.

we down into the belly

sliding down

The hollow passages in the mine form an inverted skeleton that, similar to its mammalian counter-part, controls the movement of flesh. In turn, the exerted flesh extracts material with which the human constructs its exoskeleton: both its physical infrastructure and tools - its walls and its axes - and its monetary system, its coins. The coins by which it pays its soldiers and the tools by which it builds its cities. Without the vertical excavation of the earth’s crust the horizontal conquest of empire was impossible. Equally, without the empire’s expansion the mines’ source of slave labour ceased establishing a new ouroboros-like loop of rock and flesh.

can you smell yourself?

With the introduction of coinage, markets became as impersonal as war. Neighbours came to think of each other as competitors and customers whose motivation is led only by calculation and profit. The coin camouflages itself with divine insignias of myth and religion. It disguises its radical simplification of motive, exchange and debt as morality.

your hands are dirty

you spoil the bread

Laurium’s cavities tell a story of loss, but they are not empty. The signs, symbols and gestures of Laurium’s mines articulate its relationship with bodies and systems throughout history. These marks and movements are artefacts of Laurium’s transmutations translated again and again by different eyes, different tools and across different spaces.

–Text from MINE/MINE, Alkmini Gkousiari & Edward Gwyn Jones