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The Iron Ring creator speaker of the Out of Place Talks.

We have already introduced some of the main Out of Place speakers such as Manuel Dominguez with Very large Structures, Di Mainstone with The Human Harp and Jaron Rowan with “Memes: idiot’s intelligenve, rare politics and digital folclore”. Cecilia isn’t for being the last in being introduced, the least. It is the contrary, actually.

Cecilia Jonsson (b. 1980 in Sweden) is based in Bergen, Norway. She holds her MA in Fine Art from Bergen Academy of Art and Design, 2012 and completed the Nordic Sound Art master program the same year. Jonsson is an interdisciplinary artist whose research resides in the tension between the mineral domain and living entities. Informed by methods used in the natural sciences her works are often site-related, artistic interpretations of empirical material. Exploring the raw materials that create our experience of the world, from their origins deep in the ground, to extraction, transformation and global exploitation. In 2014 Jonsson was awarded Second Prize in VIDA 16.0 Art and Artificial Life International Awards for her project The Iron Ring.

The Iron Ring explores how contaminated mining grounds may benefit from the mining of metals. For The Iron Ring, 24kg of iron-tainted grass was removed from contaminated mining grounds and transformed into a ring of 2g metallic iron.

Iron is considered very important to life in general and has a lower toxicity than other metals. Extensive or abandoned metal mines and industrial activities have, however, caused metal releases into the ecosystem to accelerate and reach toxic levels. So-called iron hyperaccumulating plants are tolerant to inorganic iron and can grow on these degraded grounds. There they extract the metal from the soil to store it in very high concentrations inside their roots, stems and leaves. The means of “cleaning” the polluted soil however, is a periodical commitment that relies on human interaction: harvest. The plants’ metal enriched biomass (in other words, their contaminated biological materials) needs to be removed from the ground before the plants by season wilt and the extracted metal reverts back to the soil. So that after the harvest is removed, new sprouts can grow to continue the decontamination process. The project elaborates on the possibilities to utilize the cleansing process of the naturalized, wild growing grass: Imperata cylindrica. An invasive vile weed, which overlooked tolerance and ability to hyper accumulate iron inside its roots, stems and leaves are left unutilized. The Iron Ring proposes to harvest the grass for the purpose of extracting the ore that is inside them. The result is a scenario for iron mining that, instead of furthering destruction, could actually contribute to the environmental rehabilitation of abandoned metal mines.

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* Metropolis M, Dutch Art Magazine, New Alchemy, no: 2 Nieuwe Materie: Cecilia Jonsson - The Iron Ring project. By: Niels van Maanen