Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Museum of Natural History - Wien
19 / 02 / 2015 – 31 / 05 / 2015

Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary’s most ambitious thematic exhibition to date, Rare Earth features 17 artistic positions, including ten new commissions.

Rare Earth is nothing less than an attempt to define the spirit of our age: an exhibition relating myth, identity, and cosmology to current advances in technology, through reference to the material basis for the most developed weapons and tools – a class of 17 “rare earth” elements from the periodic table found in everything from mobile phones to computer hard drives. After the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, this is the age of Rare Earth.

Rare earth elements are the game-changing foundation of our most powerful innovations—materials that underpin an ever-expanding list of technologies. First deployed on an industrial scale with the invention of the cathode ray television screen, they are fundamental to contemporary accouterments 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, green energy and wind turbines. Consequently, rare earth elements play an ever-increasing role in global politics and economics. In keeping with TBA21’s interest in social and geopolitical issues, participating artists represent countries directly involved in rare earth extraction and trading.

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Featured artists

Ai Weiwei (China), Iain Ball (UK), Erick Beltrán (Mexico), Julian Charrière (Switzerland), Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen (UK, Belgium), Camille Henrot (France), Roger Hiorns (UK), Marguerite Humeau (France), Oliver Laric (Austria), Ursula Mayer (Austria), Jean Katambayi Mukendi (Congo), Otolith Group (UK), Katie Paterson (UK), Charles Stankievech (Canada), Suzanne Treister (UK), Guan Xiao (China), Arseniy Zhilyaev (Russia).

A catalogue will be published to coincide with the exhibition, featuring contributions by Iain Ball, Benjamin Bratton, Erick Beltràn, Jane Bennett, Revital Cohen & Tuur van Balen, Erik Davis, Paul Feigelfeld & John Durham Peters, Boris Groys, Marguerite Humeau, Timothy Morton, Boris Ondreička, Matteo Pasquinelli, Jussi Parikka and Nadim Samman, edited by Boris Ondreička and Nadim Samman, published by Sternberg Press.