At V2_ we're very happy and proud that Cecilia Jonsson has been awarded the Second Prize of the sixteenth VIDA Awards for her project The Iron Ring. Cecilia Jonsson realized The Iron Ring in 2013 during a Summer Sessions residency with support of V2_ and PNEK.
From the jury statement:
'Second Prize (10,000 euros) was awarded to The Iron Ring by Swedish artist Cecilia Jonsson. Her installation reflects on the tension between the underlying organic and inanimate matter in our environment. The author describes her project as a series of trials and errors, explored in close collaboration with the technicians, scientists, blacksmiths, and farmers she met in the course of her research. The aim was to collect up to 24 kg of grass in the vicinity of the Río Tinto mines in southern Spain that would yield enough iron to create a 2-gram ring. This complicated project illustrates the slippage across nature and technology as well as the environmental awareness present in today’s culture, an issue which the VIDA Awards have accurately reflected in recent years.'
The VIDA Awards rank among the most important distinctions in the field of new media art. Created in 1999 by Fundación Telefónica, they are currently the only prizes dedicated to art and artificial life. The VIDA 16.0 jury, consisted of international experts Honor Harger, Jose Carlos Mariátegui, Marina MacDougall, Mónica Bello, Nell Tenhaaf, Roger Malina, and Laura Fernández Orgaz.
The Iron Ring is an installation about manipulation of the earth’s organic as well as inanimate matter, exploring a fascinating and productive tension between the two. Through artefacts and video documentation, Jonsson takes us through the steps required to create a 2 gram wrought iron ring from 24 kilograms of iron hyperaccumulating plants. These are a particular grass, Imperiata cylindrical, naturalized as weeds on toxic grounds at the Spanish mining site Rio Tinto. Involving close collaborators including scientists and blacksmiths, the artist leads us through processes of growing the plants, their extraction of iron from the ground, harvesting and burning to re-extract the metal, iron reduction from the ash, and ultimately casting the ring. The work portrays a complex ecosystem that includes not just metal and plant materials but also information, tools, fire and skills. This is very close to the spirit of Manuel De Landa’s materialist philosophy that expands the sense of matter to encompass the energy and information flows–both human and nonhuman–in material systems. Jonsson aptly frames her core interest as the slippages across nature and technology, environmental awareness and social culture, a set of concerns that seem ever more pressing as topics for art practice. (vida.fundaciontelefonica.com/en/project/the-iron-ring/)