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Gold Rush (2016 - 18)

Keywords: domestic mining, e-waste, jewellery

[…] Originally, the word gold rush was used about the period characterised by a feverish influx of people to areas were veins of gold had been found. The driving force was the dream of making the big find that would make one rich overnight. Today we also use the word gold rush in a more metaphorical way about new, lucrative markets that many people want to invest in. These have often come into being as a result of technical innovations. A quick google search reveals that it can range from oil extraction to wind power and modern electronics.


In their work on the Gold Rush series, the jewellery artists Beatrice Brovia and Nicolas Cheng have taken electronic apparatus as their point of departure. Not mainly because the producers of such apparatus have occasionally caused gold rush conditions on the stock market, but because mobile phones, computers, cables and contacts – and many other forms of electronics – actually contain gold and other precious metals. There are, for example, roughly 50mg of gold in an ordinary mobile phone. Gold is heavily in demand in industry solely because of the properties this metal possesses. Gold strongly resists corrosion and most other chemical reactions, and it is unsurpassed when it comes to resisting heat.


If one takes the vast overconsumption of telephones and other electronics that exists today, this means large amounts of precious metal are gradually piling up on the scrapheap. If one wants to go hunting for gold nowadays, one ought to set off for the landfills in search of this type of refuse. Occasionally Brovia and Cheng have been using industrial waste in the form of pulverised computer screens and CPU boards as well as gold and silver, and they have brought in expertise and refuse from big scale companies dealing with e-waste processing. One major consumer of gold is in fact the space industry. Gold-plated mylar used to shield satellites and spaceships is also part of the refuse collected by them. However a lot of their e-waste material comes from friends and acquaintances. ‘Domestic Mining’ is what they call their method, and it represents an attitude towards resources that extends far beyond their own project. […]

Excerpt from Gold Rush exhibition catalogue, introduction text by Jorunn Veiteberg.