Silent Canary

“Three years ago we never thought that the mine company could come back.”

In the 18th century a mining company was in charge of a city that is now called Kelmis. In order to extract the greater profit — zinc — out of its soil, the company shaped the landscape and the community for its needs.
Half a century later, due to technological impossibilities, the mine, as well as the country, lost their value. Today, a new mining company is aware of the potential profit that still exists under the city’s ground. In addition to the remaining zinc, a rare element used in our technological devices lays next to it: Germanium. This company has come to stake its position among Kelmis, wanting to reanimate the old tunnels. While the state and corporations are discussing regulations and procedures, the citizens can only wait as silent spectators of their lives.
Silent Canary delves into the social implications of resource extraction. It opens a dialogue between past and present in this right moment of stalemate. By interweaving traces of the former mine and portraits of the community, the project exposes the human figures at the mercy of forces driven by profit.

“That was one of the arguments used to open the mine again, there is Germanium, a rare element which is used in our technologies. To extract zinc could be only an excuse.”


Pre-production dummy, Edition of 6.


While walking through the streets of Kelmis, I just could not ignore the connection between the history of this town and my own everyday life. And indeed that connection had been in my hands for days: a revelation coming directly from the inside of my camera. Smartphones, cameras, computers and other circuit-based devices have become the companions of our daily routine. There are many things we don’t know about the objects we use in our everyday needs: we don’t know where they come from, who’s assembling them, or how do they affect our landscape over the long term.
What feeds our desire to keep up with technology is mining - and mining resembles capitalism in its full glory. Based on aggressive extractions, mining activities have one simple goal: suck every possible resource of capital, and then leave, off to another site where this same procedure will be repeated. These dynamics are part of a bigger power play between states and corporations, which determine the life of unaware citizens. As consumers, we want to surround ourselves with all the possible innovative items, but we do not understand the manufacturing processes that lie behind the extraction of the components of such items, nor how these processes end up affecting the lives of regular people.
The narratives that characterized Kelmis, as well as other places, lay in the circuits that connects us.


* Silent Canary published on KRZAK PAPIER, 2020. →
* Silent Canary published on British Journal of Photography, Issue #7893: Out of Sight, 2020 → instagram/BJP
* Silent Canary published on BAOBAB Magazine, 2019. →
* Silent Canary shortlisted at the Unseen Dummy Award, 2019