Van Balen, Tuur and Cohen, Revital. 2016. MINE. In: Boris Ondreička and Nadim Samman, eds. Rare Earth. Berlin: Sternberg Press, pp. 54-61. ISBN 978-3-95679-144-4 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

artist text as book chapter in Rare Earth

Rare Earth is an attempt to define the spirit of an age. Exploring how today’s myths, identities, and cosmologies relate to current advances in technology—through reference to the material basis to our most developed weapons and tools; a class of seventeen rare earth elements from the periodic table—Rare Earth challenges the rhetoric of immateriality associated with our hypermodern condition.

Rare earth elements are the game-changing foundation of our most powerful innovations, are fundamental to contemporary accoutrements such as mobile phones, iPods and iPads, liquid crystal displays, LEDs, light bulbs, CDs and DVDs. Often described as conflict materials due to the limited number of easily accessible mines, they are also integral to weapon systems used for cyber-warfare, medical technologies (including MRI scanning equipment), hybrid vehicles, wind turbines, and other green energy applications. Consequently, rare earth elements play an increasing role in global affairs and power inventions that facilitate our changing self-image—giving birth to today’s emergent myths and identities.

Rare Earth grounds our strange, seemingly weightless cultural moment. While we may design our technologies, these tools and weapons shape us in turn. It may seem that we dream the contemporary into existence, but perhaps rare earth elements are dreaming through us. After the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, this is the age of Rare Earth.

Item Type:

Book Section


rare earth, post-colonialism, extractivism, DR Congo, natural resources, coltan, situated practice, film, installation, sculpture

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1 March 2015Accepted
1 January 2016Published

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Date Deposited:

19 May 2020 10:07

Last Modified:

17 Jun 2021 12:14



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