Professor of Anthropology Rosalind C. Morris examines the social life and aftermath of matter. Specifically, she gave a reading of the conflict mineral Gold through various formats, including film and text. With a response by Het Nieuwe Instituut fellow Füsun Türetken.
Gold has always been shrouded in controversy, its value tied up with global political and economic shifts. Not to mention the often precarious working conditions under which it is mined. And yet this precious metal continues to hold a fascination that is irresistible. How can we best tease out the underlying power structures, the geopolitical entanglements and the design of gold?
On The Most Powerful Catalyst on the Planet was part of a series that promotes a polyphonic, critical and contemporary reading of conflict and capital through matter—specifically, metals—with the aim of creating transdisciplinary dialogues with other scholars, designers and artists. The series was conceived to embrace different discursive formats that foster unexpected perspectives on our understanding of the agency of matter (metal), its role in shaping our geopolitical relations, its unseen omnipresence in everything from medicaments to digital technology, and the tentacular cultural, aesthetic, political and socio-economical entanglements of the commodities that surround us. On The Most Powerful Catalyst on the Planet was part of a PhD project by Füsun Türetken.
Rosalind C. Morris
Rosalind C. Morris is Professor of Anthropology and former Director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality, as well as former Associate Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia. She is the author of several books and numerous essays that range in their objects from the social life and after-lives of gold mining in South Africa, to the histories of modernity in Southeast Asia. She also writes on aesthetics and has a special interest in photography, film and the mass media. Her most recent books include two collaborations with William Kentridge. Her forthcoming book, The Returns of Fetishism, will be published by the University of Chicago Press in Spring 2017. In addition to her scholarly writing, Professor Morris is a poet, librettist and filmmaker. She is presently completing a documentary film tentatively entitled ‘Where there is gold, there is blood.’
Füsun Türetken runs Studio ft., a platform that hacks into contemporary conditions of institutions by supporting collaborative work. She is also Head of Visual Culture and lecturer at Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam. Previously she taught at UCL, and was director of the German Pavilion at the Architecture Biennale Venice, 2008. She (co-) authored exhibitions and publications exploring the contemporary city, including 'Shrinking Cities’, and lectured on slow violence, conflict, virtual warfare, power structures and architecture. The theme of her fellowship at Het Nieuwe Instituut is part of her PhD endeavour at Research Architecture, Goldsmiths London.
The Reading Room is a series of evenings dedicated to the act of collective reading. It is a place to decipher and interpret the world with its countless languages and systems, including phenomena that by their ubiquity evade investigation. Led by an artist, researcher or designer, a small audience will reflect upon a concept, a text, an object or an image. The Reading Room is a space for intimate, provocative conversations. It is a place for creative confusion and sometimes even frustration, in which speakers and audience are not looking for concrete solutions but for higher resolutions. Subjects in previous Reading Rooms include exhibition, surveillance, migration, liquidity, museum, insecurity.