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Acid Love (2018)
Tshimologong Precinct, Johannesburg

Acid mine drainage (AMD) results when bedrock sulfides are exposed to oxygen, water, and acidophilic bacteria—the resulting chemical feedback leaches heavy metals that are ecologically damaging but potentially valuable to the electronics industry. This material process is embedded within ensembles of geology, industry, and equity in South Africa.

Installed at the Tshimologong Precinct, a former nightclub turned digital innovation center in downtown Johannesburg, Acid Love comprises vessels of AMD gathered from a mine on the outskirts of the city. These are connected in an electrical circuit that incorporates the conductivity of the dissolved metals and which produces sound. Over time, the installation performs a remediation—the metals will precipitate to the bottom of the vessels, and both the sound and the color of the water will subsequently change.

For more information, see “Acid Love: Mines, Remediation, and Ensembles of the Witwatersrand” in Leonardo, 2020 (publisher, pdf)

Curator: Lenore Manderson, Tegan Bristow. Commissioned by: Watershed Festival, Fak'ugesi Festival. Science: Centre in Water Research and Development at University of the Witwatersrand. Thanks: Tamlyn Naidu, Nick Burman, Craig Sheridan, Mark Lewis, Christo Doherty, Lucia Monge, DIZ Maker Space, Tshimologong staff.