Benera and Estefan
Blue Ground, 2021 - 2022
Three-channel HD video installation, stereo sound, 12 min. 05 sec.
Sound: Simina Oprescu
Research imagery and documentation: Basler Afrika Bibliographien and 
The Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Munich 

Comissioned and produced by 39th EVA International 2020-2021, Ireland’s Biennial of Contemporary Art
Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart and Solitude Project Cultural Association, Bucharest.

From the Black Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, by way of Namibia's desert, distinct geographies and industries interconnect through a common history of extraction. This history is narrated through the voice of a fugitive diamond that has broken free from human hands.

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.

While 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 gems are mined at sea, off the Namibian coast, in the proximity of Benguela ecosystem (bearing the name of its dolphins).
In a Romanian shipyard at the Black Sea coast, the artists filmed the construction of the first custom-made diamond recovery vessel in the world commissioned by De Beers Group and named Benguela Gem, that has just started mining the Namibian waters in March 2022.

“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 becomes the voice of the narrator, and a symbolic frontier of human and technological relations to the landscape.