Anca Benera & Arnold Estefán

Blue Ground, 2022, three-channel video installation, 12 min 13 sec, glass and metal sculptures with sound installation

📍 Venue → Hospital

Anca Benera and Arnold Estefán are artists who have been working together since 2011. Their work in installation, video, and performance uses research-based methodologies to reveal the invisible patterns that lie behind historical, social, or geopolitical narratives. Their recent work investigates the phenomenon of man-made landscapes around the world, where the making and marking of the landscape goes hand in hand with a heightened state of violence and the overexploitation of resources. The artists’ three-channel video installation juxtaposes three distinct geographies—the Namibian desert, the adjacent Atlantic Ocean, and the Romanian Black Sea coast—and industries interconnected by opaque trading networks which share a common mineral: the diamond. The history of diamond mining in Namibia, then part of colonial German Southwest Africa, began in 1908, and as the land’s resources are slowly being depleted, the ocean has become the next mining frontier. Some of the highest-quality gems are thus mined from the igneous rock, known as the blue ground, off the Namibian coast. Hence the scars of the Namibian desert landscape find their counterpart in the welded seams of the first custom-made diamond recovery vessel, commissioned by De Beers Group in a joint venture with the Namibian government, constructed in a Romanian shipyard in 2021.

The artistic practice of Anca Benera (*1977) and Arnold Estefán (*1978) is research-driven, instigated by the hidden or invisible patterns behind certain historical, social, or geopolitical narratives. The relationships between history and environment, climate, ecology, and the politics of resources are often at the center of their projects. Their exhibitions include: Subnature, Trafo, Budapest (solo, 2021), The Normal, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh (2021), the 39th EVA International (2021), Potential Worlds, Migros Museum, Zurich (2021), Slow Life, Ludwig Museum, Budapest (2021), Overview Effect, Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade (2020), Persona, MUCEM, Marseille (2019), The Last Particles, 40mcube, Rennes (2019), MAC International Art Prize, Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast (2018), Manufacturing Nature, FRAC des Pays de la Loire, Nantes (2018), Natural Histories. Traces of the Political, MUMOK, Vienna (2017), Sights and Sounds, The Jewish Museum, New York (2016), The School of Kyiv, Kyiv Biennial (2015), Global Control and Censorship, ZKM, Karlsruhe (2015), The Brancusi-Effekt, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2014), Mom, am I barbarian?, the 13th Istanbul Biennial (2013), Intense Proxim-ity, La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012), and Navigating London’s Lost Rivers, Camden Arts Centre, London (2011). They live and work in Bucharest and Vienna. 

Installation view (c) Jonáš Verešpej