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A study of the transformation of asbestos extraction from the earth to extraction from the walls. In this piece the artists ask how both filming and the use of found footage can be thought of as forms of extraction: extracting images from forms and from contexts.
Mined, extracted, and woven, asbestos was the magic mineral. Towns became cities under its patronage, Persian kings entertained guests with its fireproof nature, and centuries of industry raked in the profits of its global application. We now live in the remains of this toxic dream, a dream that with the invention of electron microscopes revealed our material history as a disaster in waiting. Yet the asbestos industry has far from left us, with extraction from the soil transforming to extraction from our walls. We are now faced with two options: to remove this material from our homes and start anew, or to build upon its residue. Removal is a dangerous and costly operation. So often we choose to live amongst it instead, choking out our walls with plastic tarping: the failed promises of modernism literally entombed all around us.
Shot in the mining township of Asbestos, Quebec, home to the world’s largest asbestos mine, that only stopped extraction in 2012, the film is a meditation on the entanglement of the fragility of bodies, the nonlinearity of progress, and the persistence of matter. (Sasha Litvintseva and Graeme Arnfield)
Official Selection Berlinale 2017 - Forum Expanded


Type of film
Running Time
20 mins
Sasha Litvintseva, Graeme Arnfield
Sasha Litvintseva, Graeme Arnfield
Sasha Litvintseva, Graeme Arnfield
Director of Photography
Sasha Litvintseva
Sound Recordist: Benjamin R. Taylor
Graeme Arnfield

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Last updated 20th January 2017