Emanuele Nicolo Andreoli

Research output: Book/anthology/dissertation/reportBookResearch


Argon39 is a long-term project that the artist Mitra Azar has undertaken about the mining history of an area of Sardinia, seen through his family photographic archive. Up to know, the project has taken the shape of a video-installation held at Nuova Galleria Morone in Milan, this book, and around 1 TB of visual materials shot towards the realization of an artist movie about the Pizzetti Archive and the Sardinian mining industry. In collaboration with Archive Books Berlin, the artist publishes a limited edition of 39 books, disclosing some of the unique photographic materials from the archive, never shown to the public beside in specific contexts such as historical archives scattered throughout Italy – among them the Alinari archive in Florence.
Each copy of the book is different from the others. The first 9 copies of the book comes along with a USB stick storing a 1/9 limited edition of the video-installation Argon39. All books include a 1/1 edition of an original negative from the Pizzetti archive and few original pages from “The Manual of the Miners” (1939). Some pages of the book display samples from the Genealogic Tree series, and are printed on transparent film. Moreover, the artist works on some of the original artifacts photographing them according to a still-life aesthetic which ironically tries out a methodic approach towards the materialities which compose the archive. By doing so, the artist aims at questioning the conventional archival approach as a way to collectively reconstruct the profound sense of a century of images and of an archive of about five hundred thousand shots which has been almost completely destroyed, for unknown reasons.
Argon39 combines the artist’s passion for the heretical practice of the archive with the pho- tographic work of his grandfather and great-grandfather, the photographers who document the ex- plosion of the mining industry in the Sulcis Iglesiente, in the South-West of Sardinia, from the end of 1800 to the end of fascism and beyond – at that time one of the most important industrial centers of Europe, now one of the most depressed and fascinating regions of Italy. The Pizzetti archive is the most important mining photographic archive of the island realized by the first local commercial activ- ity of photography. Ernesto Pizzetti travels to Sardinia with the Alinari brothers – the founders of the famous Alinari school and of the homonymous archive – for a photographic project on the growing Sardinian industrialization. During the trip Ernesto Pizzetti falls in love and decides to stay in Sardinia and continue his photographic activity on the island.
The artist approaches the photographic archive in relation to the material “stone” and its process of technological transformation, proposing a geological reflection on memory. The prehistoric memory of the stone undergoes a technological transformation that from the stone extracts the indispensable materials (for example silver and silicon) for the construction of oculo- centric prostheses (from eye-glasses to analog and digital cameras) intended to store the memory on external supports of various kind. The last still active mine in the area has wells of 400 meters deep, and it turns into a place of research in the field of nuclear physics for the production of a particular Argon isotope, the Argon39, particularly suitable for investigating the black matter of the universe. Thus, from industrialized matter, the stone returns close to its origins - and from being the principle of the technological conversion of human memory, it returns cosmogonic memory.
Argon39 proposes to look at the materiality of the processes of externalization of memory and gaze, and generates a short-circuit of geological and technological temporality that plunges the viewer into the very place of the formation of memory.
Original languageEnglish
Place of publicationBerlin
PublisherArchive Books
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2018


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