Lynda Ballen’s works Strata formed part of her 2012 Concerning Preciousness exhibition at David Krut Projects. In this exhibition, Ballen grappled with centuries old philosophical issues that attend the enterprise of mining. The works pay homage to the Renaissance geological scientist and theorist Georgius Agricola and appropriate the drawings from his texts to acknowledge traditional European linear techniques and explore the graphic aesthetic as a potential for narrative. Ballen, working in ink and glitter as opposed to the traditional woodcut medium, traces these lines onto intricately constructed handmade paperworks which describe the despoiling of nature for humanity’s gain, whilst simultaneously acknowledging the value of these subterranean metals and gems. These paperworks are created from recycled archival paper and metallic substances which seek to draw attention to the nature of workmanship and the crafted object, while the use of threads and braided fibre allude to the value inherent in traditional African textiles, but, moreover, as a metaphor for the preciousness of the earth’s surface.
Ballen works confront the contentious current issues and environmental concerns posed by mining, topics particularly relevant to the artist’s home city of Johannesburg.