“What human beings seek to learn from nature is how to use it to dominate wholly both it and human beings”. Horkheimer and Adorno in The Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944) “The Canary and The Hammer” is a complex, international account, detailing the inherent human reverence of gold and its affair in the ruthless endeavour of progress. Photographed across four years and four continents, the work connects seemingly disparate issues and aesthetics through a mix of stills, moving images and archival materials, sourced from both collections in libraries and online. Commencing in Peru, a land once plundered by Latin conquistadors for its abundance of precious metals, Barnard depicts a mountainous desert horizon, occupied by a small group of artisanal gold miners. By focusing on the female members of the ‘Pallaqueras’ (mineral sorters), Barnard tells the story of those who sort the ‘waste rock’ above ground for its gold content. These women embody both the first stage in bringing the element to the modern global market and the increasingly dangerous and exploitative requirements of late-capitalism. Much of the series investigates Man’s abstract but innate […]
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