Benera and Estefan
Blue Ground, 2021 - 2022
Two-channel HD video installation, stereo sound, 11 min. 20 sec.
Sound: Simina Oprescu

Research imagery and documentation: Basler Afrika Bibliographien and 
The Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Munich

Billion-year-old mutant rocks, exposed to many lifetimes of crushing pressures and hot temperatures in the Earth’s deep mantle, are released closer to the Earth surface as kimberlite (igneous rocks) known as “blue ground”. Some of them contain diamonds and undergo a long journey—from the warm belly of the Earth to the hands of commercial diamond cartels. Since the land resources are slowly depleting, the ocean becomes the next mining frontier. The history of diamond mining in the Namib desert began in 1908 when a railroad worker at the areas of German South West Africa (today Namibia) found the first diamond under the sand. Today, some of the highest quality gems are mined at sea, off the Namibian coast.
In Romania, in the summer of 2021, in a shipyard at the Black Sea coast, the artists recorded the construction of the first custom-made diamond recovery vessel, comissiond by De Beers Group (under a joint venture with the Namibian government). “Blue Ground” interconnects a number of distinct geographies and industries (from the Namib desert to the Atlantic Ocean through the Black Sea) that investigate the hidden networks and opacity of trading connections between various places and actors that share a common mineral: the diamond. Through a decolonial perspective, the film juxtaposes the scarred landscape of the Namib desert with the current ship-building process in Romania. In the film, the diamond comes to represent a symbolic frontier of human and technological relations to the landscape.

Comissioned and produced by 39th EVA International 2020-2021, Ireland’s Biennial of Contemporary Art
under its Partnership Projects in the Magic Carpets network with additional funding from Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart.