The The Iron Ring projectby the artist Cecilia Jonsson, winner of Second Prize at VIDA 16.0, tells a long, labyrinthine story which can be followed in a publication produced by the V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media centre in Rotterdam. The idea arose during a residency at V2 in the summer of 2013. The Iron Ring stems from the artist’s interest in parts of the land that have been scarred by mining and ways to reverse the process, obtaining metal from the affected environment. Jonsson collected 24 kilograms of grass contaminated with iron from the land around the Río Tinto mines in Spain and transformed it into an iron ring weighing 2 grams. The plant matter she collected (Imperata cylindrica) is known as an iron hyperaccumulator – a plant that tolerates the presence of the metal, which it extracts from the soil and stores in large concentrations inside its roots and leaves. If these plants are extracted from the soil before they decompose (meaning that the metal would return to the soil), new plants can grow which gradually lead to a process of decontamination. The Iron Ring seeks to use these plants to recover metals and thus create a form of mining that helps to recover the polluted land, instead of contributing to its destruction.
The process of creating an iron ring involved a procedure based on trial and error, as well as working in close collaboration with scientists, blacksmiths, farmers and engineers. The free download e-book offered by V2_ tells this story in two parts: the first is formed by a series of images in which Cecilia Jonsson describes the seven phases of the project; the second part includes an essay by Professor. James Jackson Griffith from the Universidade Federal de Viçosa (Minas Gerais, Brazil), who advised the artist in her early research into mining.