Black Lungs


The ultimate act of taking risk in life lays in the proximity to death. When a risk being taken is prone to fail, failure can potentially become the failure to live. Such failure is not only a failure in a repeatable act, but a real threat to life, unrepeatable and irrecoverable. These risky moments involve decisions, dreams, imaginings that motivate to action. The motivation is strong enough to push one to a fragile border between death and life. We have heard stories and seen events in moments of fighting for justice and standing against oppression when people lay bare their lives to the risk of death. From the “human walls” all around the world in which people collectively expose themselves to violence, to the individuals who stand singularly against an oppressive power, such as the Tank Man in China, Woman in Red and the Standing Man in Turkey, the moment of taking risk becomes a political action that raises questions about what happens in the moments when one becomes fully present and ready to take such actions. What drives someone to expose their life to the threat of death?



Glass Marble Earth

Black Scales

The Paradox of Taking Risk

One takes risks when one is intensely present for something, to the extent of being ready to die for it. In such moments, pushing life to the edge of death is to arrive at what one lives for. In this sense, taking risks is paradoxical; whilst inviting death to life, one is also fighting it and protecting life against it. It is in the tension of actively anticipating the event of death whilst warding it off that new meanings emerge and subversive movements take shape. To maintain such equilibrium and inhabit such tension is an art of risk-taking.

Risk in art could be downplayed, interpreted either as an art that points to risk,1 representing a risky task that emerges from the artistic activity itself, or used in artistic process as ‘information’ or as ‘knowledge of what does not work’,2 in Toni Morrison’s term. While the latter involves the experimental approach to artistic activity, it does not necessarily push the artistic activity into an act of risk taking. In other words, although the artistic activity can emerge through trial and error, it is not necessarily a risk-taking activity. Matthew Boswell describes the “real risk” in art as follows: ‘A real risk then means that there is something at stake, that there is something to be gained or lost by making a particular decision or taking a certain course of action.’3


In this way, an artistic activity that takes risk works through the art of risk-taking, i.e. an art emerging through risky moments of making decisions, acting, stepping out, and pushing the limits of possibilities. The art that takes risk leave  the artist prone to death. The death of the artist does not refer to her biological death, but rather to her stepping out of the stability of art as profession, questioning the establishment in search of a ground where art can act politically to shift the borders and inhabit the fragile boundary between death and life.


Inhabiting such a border zone is not about romanticizing failure as death and embracing death; instead, it is about postponing death. It is not about avoiding failure, but by delaying it, one can create moments of realized new worlds. Those worlds might fail, and they do. But the realized possibility of different worlds in the anticipation of death is what risk could bring to the artistic activity. In some artistic disciplines, such as the circus arts, risk is integrated into the artistic performance. Without risk, the art of circus doesn’t exist. A circus artist always acts in the tension between balance and imbalance, between life and death. The journey a tightrope walker undertakes to arrive on the other side of the rope could be a paramount example of integrated risk in an artistic activity.



Black Light

                                                                 The Black Book:

                                      An event in The Story of Earth

Each time it spoke its language of fire, it had to burn something inside. What was burnt created black strata.


When Earth grew too tired of its struggle to leave its orbit and reach the sky, it became more and more silent. It started to talk inside and bury its words in its layers. Little by little, its outer layer cooled down. After the Earth's surface had cooled to a temperature below the boiling point of water, rain began to fall – and it continued to fall for centuries.18 It rained and rained and Earth was soaked, heavy, unable to frisk about. Its desire sank; it internalized its curiosity, its passion. ‘As the water drained into the great hollows in the Earth's surface, the primeval ocean came into existence. The forces of gravity prevented the water from leaving the planet.’19 Earth buried its love, layer by layer, and let the seas press it all. Then it surrendered to infinite rotation.

The luminous inhabitants of the sky seemed so close to Earth, easy to reach and touch. They became its objects of affection. Nevertheless, the more it tried to reach them, the more it felt it was fixed in its place. Something gravitational had happened in the galaxy that was out of its hands. Reaching the sky and all those luminous strange things that surrounded it remained impossible. However, Earth’s frustration, struggle, hope and despair all formed a language, sending messages to the sky. The language consisted of lines of fire and light, rising from the highest mountains on Earth. Millions of fire lines were emitted from the Earth into the sky, and this has continued until this day.

On a bright July evening, the pages of the book The Story of Earth, by Robert M. Hazen, flutter and flip in the wind, recounting how a ball of fire cooled down and became the planet of seas, mountains and forest. It tells us a story of millions of years of rotating in the galaxy, living, changing, shaking, and becoming the planet on which we have been living and dying, into whose layers we have been digging, been buried in, grown from, and that we have been trying to understand through destruction. The breeze animates the story in the moonlight, which casts the moving shadow of pages on the table. The balcony is half lit. At the table on the half-lit side of the balcony, the book can be read in the natural light of the night. The book tells stories about the Birth of the Earth, The Big Thwack and the formation of the moon, Black Earth and the first Basalt crust, Blue Earth and formation of oceans, Gray Earth with its first Granite crust, Living Earth when life on Earth originated, Red Earth when photosynthesis and the great oxidation event happened, The “Boring” Billion that is famous for the mineral revolution, White Earth, Green Earth and the rise of the Terrestrial biosphere. It tells us a story about the layers of the Earth, what each means for geological history, how “Earth’s natural libraries reveal a multibillion-year story of coevolution shared by elements, minerals, rocks, and life.” It says: “coevolution of life and minerals through Earth history is even more striking than previously imagined – that not only do certain rocks arise from life, as evident in limestone caverns across the continent, but that life itself may have arisen from rocks.” In the background, black stockpiles have turned silver in the blue moonlight, stackers stretched in tired poses lean to the coal-breaker, gazing over the cut landscape. The smell of black dust, in the air.

There is a rustling noise in the book’s spine as the pages move in the breeze. At the end of the third chapter ‘Black Earth’, after page 76, a black book grows out. A long black thread sews it to the spine of the book, and lays on the table in a casual manner. You pull the thread and the black book unfolds. Its pages are inscribed in black ink, glossy in the moonlight. With every flip of a page, black dust rises into the air and darkens the sight. A second later though, black words shine again on the black pages. The book starts in black, silence, or vanishing murmuring voices, getting lost in the dark material of the book.

She, however – the baby – survived. She pushed her tiny heels in the sand, warm and wet with birth fluids, and cried out her first breath. The waters and blood seeped into the earth and continued running for years and years. She started to hate the sky, even before she had developed any understanding of hate. She never looked up, gazing instead at the sands stained by the fluids of her birth. The black stain became a door to new discoveries for her. By looking into that black stain and digging down into the earth, she discovered a story that scientists and geologists had overlooked. She later wrote it in a book called The Glass Marble Earth, which wandered through the libraries, bookstores and bookshelves of houses to find a place to continue its life. Finally, on that July evening, it found its place: on a table on a balcony, at page 76 of the moonlit book The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, From Stardust to Living Planet.

During this period, the Earth’s natural features were also different from what we know now as seas, mountains, deserts and forests. Such things existed, not only on the surface but also in the core of the earth. Rivers were blue ribbons, on which one could slide from the northern hemisphere to the southern. Seas were not, as we now know them, volumes of water, but a mist-like substance that from time to time and place to place became the seas through condensation. There was nothing like mountains, but transparent viscera of earth, similar to the gastrointestinal tract of a human, that took care of Earth’s metabolism.

Imagine holding a colourful glass marble between your thumb and index finger, up to a source of light; from a distance, that was what Earth looked like: a huge marble, roaming in the galaxy, shiny, colourful, frisky. It had a reddish yellow stomach, called lava, surrounded by viscera of all colours. Everything inside it was transparent, so the light passed through its organs, casting colourful shadows into the galaxy. Its movements and rotations in the galaxy were also different from how it rotates now around its own axis and revolves around the sun; it rotated freely, roaming or stopping erratically, a rebel against the order of the world.


When geologists started writing the history of the evolution of Earth, they neglected major events that involved early experiences of risk-taking. One of the events dates back to more than billion years, when such a risk disrupted the natural accretion and core formation of the earth. The planet Earth in this period – before the period of “Blue Earth” – was different in material, formal and ecological aspects. I have called this period the “Glass Marble Earth,” as Earth looks like a giant marble. During the Marble period, Earth was a permeable mass, a globe inhabitable not only on its surface, but also in its interior. It was a three-dimensional living environment, a vertical possibility to inhabit even its most central core. In this period, Earth was spacious enough to host all varieties of species. Animals, plants, minerals in solid, liquid or gas forms, were floating in its viscous transparent lava. They didn’t belong to any specific part of the planet, but migrated freely from the northern hemisphere to the southern, from the outer part of Earth to its core, floating in the viscous environment.


For Earth, it all started with curiosity, from desire. Siri Hustvedt writes that: ‘Distortion is part of desire. We always change the things we want.’17 Earth’s desire to be more than a marble encouraged it to twist its core. It twisted in curiosity about its own organs, moving them, observing them like an infant articulating the language of owning, of understanding the concept of possession. It moved its belly to stir the lava. The fear of an unknown future shook its massive body. It came as chronic seizure, later named earthquake. A widespread fear brought the flow of movements in its viscous interior to a halt. All the colourful elements that were floating in its transparent body were solidified and turned into fragments interwoven together; they formed massive plates that could now be read as archives of life before this period. This transformation started with a moment when something moved the Earth, but it lasted three hundred and sixty five days. Everything became solid, then the tectonic plates continued to move in various directions, and gave the Earth’s surface the characteristic elevations and peaks that we called later mountains. It deformed its perfect round shape. The mountains became the identity of the earth, raising its surface to the sky, a desire to connect to the sky and reach its luminous inhabitants. It no longer resembled a glass marble.

The Glass Marble Earth is the name of the black book, indicating a period in the history of Earth between the Black Earth and the Blue Earth, one that no one had ever talked about.  Just before the oceans were formed on Earth, there was a period called Glass Marble Earth – Earth looked like a huge, colour-streaked glass marble in this period. It was transparent. It is written by an anonymous author, who was born on the shortest night of the year in one of the darkest places in the world, a paradise for stargazers, to an astrophotographer mother who gave birth to her with her gaze fixed on the sky, searching to capture the Milky Way. She waited in anticipation behind her tripod, longing for particles of light to arrive at her camera’s lens from far far away. She was so intensely distracted that she forgot that she was in labour. When she noticed, the baby was already out, the umbilical cord hung from between her legs and ended at a pink creature on the ground, grains of sands stuck to her small, hairy head. The astrophotographer haemorrhaged, collapsed on the cold desert sands, and died.

Glass Marble Earth

                                   Formation of Coal

It has been difficult for geologists and scientists to definitively say what coal is made of. The deeper you get into its details, the more complicated it becomes. And I suggest that this complexity in itself can open up a new understanding of geology; that the process, events, decisions, imaginations, feelings that Earth had gone through are all components of every piece of coal. But we should also consider that chunks of coal, as the final product of a mining activity, are even more complicated; they also contain the stories of miners. It is also important to bear in mind that it is the result of risky decisions made by human and non-human actors. Perhaps its flammability is related to the presence of risky moments in its nature.

To explain simply the process of the formation of coal, I can summarize it into the following stages:

  1. Termination of Glass Marble Earth period, emergence of seas, and formation of an inner language, explained above.
  2. The event of birth in the desert resulted in the birth fluids seeping into the earth. The birth fluids burnt the sands down into the crust. Its high concentration of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, phospholipids and urea turns it into a material with strong chemical influence that can resolve the hardest rocks. Experiments have shown that 0.1 millimetre of this substance is enough to make a shaft of 4900 kilometres into the earth – as deep as Kilimanjaro is high.
  3. The dark ecology itself is not a dead environment, but a living one. It is also evident in the recent discoveries of “organisms in places long considered inhospitable – in superheated volcanic vents, acidic pools, Arctic ice, and stratospheric dust”20 – that life is more persistent than what we usually imagine. The dark strata of Earth that we are discussing now could also be imagined as those inhospitable environments. These dark and black strata, underground and without air and light – assumed to be crucial to life – are also where the Earth’s struggle, passion and love for reaching the luminous things in the sky are kept guarded as a big secret or a forgotten and silenced story. First they were soft and fluid, then they were solidified and rigid and formed an environment for nyctophile21 plants that drilled their roots and lives into the unyielding black strata. Those plants were evidence of life in those inhospitable environments. Their leaves were blue, white, and grey. Their leaves were looking for the particles of black darkness and grey dust in the layers of earth’s crust. The plants were growing to the whispers, to the rustle, to the birth fluids, to those humming noises of Earth on the cusp of falling into silence. Their roots were red. But they were not revealing that red; they were keeping it all to themselves. The plants were warm in their roots and cold in their leaves. Yet if you looked closely into their leaves, you could see that the midribs were a slightly pink – or pale red – shade that grew paler in the veins and the small netted veins.22

Crafting the Colour Black

Add red, then add the green of the plants, the blue of the seas and far spaces, add the grey of the black light, add the violet of outrage. Then add the ochre of deserts, add a bit of the turquoise of play and stir it with a bit of gold. Then let it rest under the pressure of seas, of the gradual death of plants, the shivering of earthquakes, the extinctions of animals, the burden of time. Black is the most anarchic response to oppression, formed as tough material inside the earth, named coal.

Choreography of Kneeling

Being on one’s knees is being ‘in a condition or state of decline or near ruin’. Bringing someone to their knees means to defeat them. Being on one’s knees is an indication of an end, of being on the edge. Miners’ kneeling, however, is an indication of not fitting into a space constructed to extract profit from the hard layers of the earth. Miners’ kneeling is a gesture of resistance to the oppressive conditions of their labour.

Sentinel Species

I have been down in the Earth 7563 times. They say canaries are the best companions in the coal mines, giving us an early warning for toxic gases, primarily carbon monoxide.26 They become sick before the miners, and then the miners have a chance to escape. But in my experience, having taken all kinds of species down the mine – including: cats, dogs, flies, lizards, turtles, horses, spiders – pale goldfish are the best indicators of risk. It all started with a golden fish I have been keeping at home. We had developed a symbiosis: I was taking care of him, he was taking care of me. One day I decided to take him along into the coal mine. I got the idea to make a fish tank. Day one, he remained still in the corner of the tank, mesmerized by the darkness. Day two, he remained still in the corner of the tank, mesmerized by the darkness. Day three, he remained still in the corner of the tank, mesmerized by the darkness. Day four, around noon, he began to move crazily in the tank. We escaped. The explosion happened 30 minutes later. Later in the evening, when we got back home, I noticed a new black scale on his body. I have escaped 25 incidents down in the mine, and he has 25 black scales on his body.

A New Formula for Crafting a Piece of Coal/ Sewage Treatment

The sanitary sewer by the coal mine takes the waste water from the washing machines down to the layers of Earth. The coal dust on the clothes, together with sweat from the miners’ bodies, returns to the strata. The water, lactic acid, urea, sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium combine with the secrets of the Earth; nyctophile plants can produce high quality coal years later.


Craft: Construction of Holes as Cutting One’s Life through Darkness

‘Underground anthracite mining was a craft requiring concentration, fearlessness, and the belief that the work was in one’s blood. The miners could only return to work every day because they negotiated their relationships with death by telling stories, (…).’23

To craft a story of a coal mine then is to craft a relationship with death, with injuries. This story is told by constructing holes, carved out of darkness and rigid layers of earth. To carve life out of death was how they made their relationship with death. In the heavy presence of death underground, they craft their stories of life to postpone death. The coal miners’ work is crafting a relationship with Earth by risking life, by speaking to death. It is to tell stories, write poems, sing songs with the language of Earth.

Crafting the Cough

‘Coal dust that enters the lungs can neither be destroyed nor removed by the body.’24 It stays there forever and causes Black Lung. The cough was the story of the black lungs, inscribed in miners’ lungs, stuttering the language of life.

Facing the Coalface in Black Light/ Black Lungs

To face the darkness is to connect to imagination. It is to be free from visual references that connect us to our surroundings, defined by the light reflected from the surfaces of things. To face the darkness is to construct new references that could make sense in the absence of light reflected from things. In darkness, things remain in a visual silence. To find those references in darkness, one has to grope about, understanding things with other senses, collecting noises, voices, smells, sounds, or holding things, touching them.

To face a coalface is to face a black wall in the dark. It calls you to carve out black from black, darkness from darkness. To face a coalface is an invitation to craft that dark matter, named coal. In the coal mines, there is an ongoing battle between the black darkness with white light. When the miner’s lamp tries to cast light, the coal dust in the air absorbs it. What is created is a fog that doesn’t let the miners see very far. As George Orwell writes in his Down the Mine, ‘You cannot see very far, because the fog of coal dust throws back the beam of your lamp.’25 This act of throwing back creates a condition that I call black light. The particles of coal dust give another understanding of not being able to see, a darkness that is not black in appearance, but black at its core.

Coal Mine


When I started writing my findings about the Glass Marble Earth period, I had already been down in the ground many times – precisely 7369 times, according to my diary as I write this text. The first time was in my earliest childhood. I followed my birth fluids and cut the Earth all the way down, until I arrived in a black viscous stratum, an alien ecology, at once mesmerizing, made of murmuring of the Earth, speaking with outrage, with despair and hope, using a language that one could describe not only with words, but also with the materiality of darkness. A darkness that is not monochrome, but the result of multiplicity of colours, stories, extinct beings, forgotten ideas and unspoken feelings. At this point I ascertained a new definition of colour black that assisted me in categorizing various types of coal extracted from the Earth.

Coal was what the black material extracted from the darkest strata of Earth was later named.

Underground Risk-Taking

In this exposition, I persist in keeping the concept of risk on the edge of death; I would like to arrive at the context of coal mines, where risk is integrated in the everyday life of a coal miner. For coal miners in coal mines, taking risk is not an option but a necessity. The coal mining industry has had progressive influence on industry, but the massive carbon dioxide emission from burning the coal continues to pose a threat to the environment and to life on Earth. On the other hand, sites of extraction, including those for coal mining, have created landscapes of their own that connect us to land by dramatic cuts through layers of earth. These ‘open wounds’,4 usually hidden from sight in urban centres, remind us of where our lives are rooted and how we have been fed by its resources from the very emergence of life on Earth.

These dramatic landscape and underground tunnels have also been the sites of tragic events. It was on 4thof May 2017 that the Zemestan-Yurt coal mine disaster in northern Iran took the lives of many coal miners. There was an explosion at the depth of 1200 meters when miners were trying to power a locomotive. The explosion destroyed the tunnel, trapping many miners, who were then exposed to the poisonous gases. This accident is just one flash of a story from a thick book of the deaths of thousands of miners each year all around the world. The stories of coal mine accidents, from the Honkeiko colliery mining disaster in 1942 in China – the largest mining accident to date, which killed 1549 miners– the Courrières coalmine disaster in 1906 in France, where the total death toll was 1099; the Mitsubishi Hojyo disaster in 1914 in Japan, which left 687 dead; the Senghenydd colliery disaster of 1913 in the United Kingdom; the Caolbrook mine disaster of 1960 in South Africa with 435 deaths, Wankie colliery disaster in Zimbabwe in 1972 with more than 400 deaths, Dhanbad coal mine disaster of 1965 in India with 375 deaths; Monongah disaster of 1907 in the US with 362 deaths, and many others,6 to the most recent coal mine accident (at the time of writing) on 19thof January 2019 in Shaanxi province in China,7 give us an intense world map of coal mine disasters and a sense of how widespread and frequent such tragic events are. While these events are called coal mine “accidents”, many of them are due to a lack of legislation and regulations around safety issues and workers’ rights and could be described as human crafted accidents as a result of an exploitative form of labour and lack of care. In addition to such “accidents”, coal miners are also subject to the more gradual decline of health and body. Not only is the posture required for mining work harmful to workers’ bodies; there is a more dangerous health condition due to the inhalation of coal mine dust; called coal-workers’ pneumoconiosis,8 or black lung,9 it can lead to premature death.

Unlike the risk in artistic process, the risk that miners take every day is not an optional mode of artistic engagement, but a necessity for survival. To descend into the ground every day is to embrace risk – the risk of sudden events of explosion, collapse, or the risk of gradual death due to coal dust residue in the lungs. However, it is in these risky and hazardous environments that the most radical workers movements have taken shape. Major documented movements, from the miners strikes of 1984-85 in Britain10 to the strikes against the privatization plans in central China at the Hunan Coal Industry Group in 2009,11 exhibit how such dark and deep spaces underground, have turned a harsh, oppressive and exploitative working environment into a revolutionary ground.

In such a landscape, where risk is ever-present and closely integrated in every second of the coal miners’ lives, as is an ongoing resistance to the exploitative form of labour, coal miners craft these black things with their irregular shapes, each of them a masterpiece in its own right, containing the fragility and vulnerability of the worker’s body, the stories of explosions, workers’ movements, and a geological history of Earth.


The mine is the political summary of Earth. It is a scene for performing risky labour, for resistance, strikes, explosions, dust. It is a site for the echoing of poems lost in the reverberation of a piece of coal hitting the ground. The mine is an underground infrastructure that exposes the fragility of many actors and performers who risk their lives, and yet claim control over their lives by defying the authorities. Mines are not the locus of oppressed lives, where coal miners struggle with their precarious life conditions, but an underground infrastructure through which they perform an authentic subversive life; they live their outrage. Elissa Washuta depicts such underground life far beyond the soul act of digging; she renders it as a complex political life and writes:

“Anthracite miners would routinely strike, defy authority, repeat that “A miner is his own boss,” and walk out when they decided the day’s work was done. And the digging was never simple: every move was a decision that could result in death. The miners took pride in propping the roof with wooden beams, in the drilling of holes, in the preparation of explosives, in the blasting, and in the picking of loosened coal. This was a set of decisions and actions they thought of as craft.”12

It is in the coal mines, in their caverns and corridors, that the constant digging gives rhythm to life in darkness. The mine’s darkness is materialized in chunks of coals, in coal-miners’ dusty bodies, in their black lungs. Here, in the persisting event of death, in the event of being buried underground, the story of the birth of the universe, of Earth, is being told, dug, kept, written and read, over and over again, by the miners.

In her “Insomnia: Viewing Ecologies of Spatial Becoming-With,” Karin Reisinger describes mining areas as the outcome of ‘a complex relation of needs and practices’ that transform the landscape.13 While she studies the cases of LKAB mines of Kiruna or Malmberget in northern Sweden, she renders them as an assemblage consisting of:

‘natural deposits, tools, technologies, machines, wheels, vehicles, huge amounts of energy, legal designations, profits and investments, infrastructure, workers, workers’ dwellings, health systems, social implementations, educational assessments, archives, literature, exhibitions, and guided tours. It also consists of open wounds in the landscape and cavities underground, water systems, electrical lighting and control systems, safety measures, and chemicals affecting human and nonhuman life.’14

Such an assemblage is the site of storytelling, where such elements play important roles in the risky activity of coal mining. It is in this assemblage that I would like to construct a story, where the coal miner speaks from the centre of the geological history of Earth.


In this exposition, I situate the discussion of risk in coal mines, investigating the work of coal miners as a craftthrough which they develop subversive modes of labour. The story in this exposition starts millions of years ago and offers a fictional geological history of Earth, where the formation of coal plays an important role in the planet’s evolution. In this evolution, various moments of risk lead us down into a coal mine. Instead of focusing on how coal has come into existence as the basis of industrialization, I discuss how the evolution of the earth has created dark and deep spaces where the miner as a political and undermined worker has come to the scene of political resistance against exploitation, domination and the oppressive power hierarchy of the world. In this account, the evolution of Earth progresses in moments of risk that have left fragments of death in the layers of Earth. These fragments of death are materialized through dark and black strata and underground spaces as coal mines.

To situate this artistic work in the field of geology, I have used the book The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet,by Robert M. Hazen. The story of coal mines starts from the Marble Earth, a period that is imagined and inserted after the chapter ‘Black Earth’ in the diagram presented by Hazen.15 Through a vertical structure poised on the edge of death and life, and by means of writing and drawing, risk is experimented with using concepts such as imprecision, the materiality of darkness, and the fragility of working with such materiality.

This work is exposed through a vertical storytelling, starting from the sky and descending deep into the coal mine. I have used imprecise drawings as the method of a performative storytelling, where imprecision and chance are a way of opening up possibilities for storytelling. Such imprecision, borrowed from the dissident architects of the Soviet era, where watercolours were used to challenge and question the State language of architectural representation,16 leads the story of the evolution of the Earth.



The Glass Marble Earth

Earth Language / Risk



the Shaft

Shaft is long. 

It fervently kills the particles of light, stifles an understanding of the world that is dependent on seeing. 

Shaft is the summary of mine structure. 

It speaks to the Earth with a direct language, without adverbs. 

Shaft is a non-adverb architectural language of extraction, a vertical language. 

It cuts, kills, intrudes, gets closer to the secret of the Earth, buried somewhere, solid, black, resistant, in the hottest point of the earth, where everything flows. 

Shaft is a language that doesn’t follow the language of geology, of history, of nature, but cuts through them.











Essence of Life



Remains of Nyctophile Plants on Coal

Earth's Language Is Heard from Here

Wrong Shaft that Is Cut through the Earth Down to its Core

Where Earth's Secret Is Kept


* This exposition is the first of a series of experiments in an ongoing work on infrastructure architecture in relation to sites of extraction, where infrastructure pertains to structures through which the politics of labour and the flow of material and resources are staged, exposed, hidden or manipulated. It gives us a different and subversive story of what goes on in sites of extraction, by focusing on the undermined and minor actors in these sites.

[1]“I don’t want art that points to a thing. I want art that is the thing” – Tania Bruguera.

[2]“As a writer, a failure is just information. It’s something that I’ve done wrong in writing, or is inaccurate or unclear. I recognize failure—which is important; some people don’t—and x it, because it is data, it is information, knowledge of what does not work. That’s rewriting and editing. Morrison, Toni (2014). ‘Write, Erase, Do It Over’. NEA ARTS. No 04.

[3]Boswell, M. (2014). ‘The Art of Risk’. Arts Professional. Accessed 05 August 2018.

[4]Reisinger, K. (Forthcoming, 2019). “Insomnia: Viewing Ecologies of Spatial Becoming-With”. In Hélène Frichot and Gunnar Sandin, eds. After Effects: Theories and Methodologies in Architectural Research. Barcelona/ New York: Actar. P. 77.

[5]The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2009). ‘Honkeiko colliery mining disaster’. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Accessed 08 October 2018.

[6]Gupta, A. (2014). ’The World’s Worst Coal Mining Disasters’. Mining Technology. Accessed 05 September 2018.

[7]Agence France-Presse (2019). ‘China Mine Accident: 21 dead after roof collapse. The Guardian. Accessed 13 January 2019.

[8]Berkes, H. & Becker, B. (2019). ’I figured It Was Going To Be A Horrible Death, And It Probably Will Be’. npr. Accessed 23 January 2019.

[9]The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (2011). ‘Pneumoconioses’. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 06 August 2018.

[10]Milne, S. (2004). The Enemy Within: Thatcher’s Secret War Against the Miners.Ebook. London: Verso. P. 82.


[12]Washuta, E. (2016). ”They Just Dig: On Writing, Coal Mining, and Fear”. Literary Hub. Accessed 20 May 2018.

[13]Reisinger, K. (Forthcoming 2019). “Insomnia: Viewing Ecologies of Spatial Becoming-With”. In Hélène Frichot and Gunnar Sandin, eds. After Effects: Theories and Methodologies in Architectural Research. Barcelona/ New York: Actar. P. 77.

[14]Reisinger, K. (Forthcoming 2019). “Insomnia: Viewing Ecologies of Spatial Becoming-With”. In Hélène Frichot and Gunnar Sandin, eds. After Effects: Theories and Methodologies in Architectural Research. Barcelona/New York: Actar. P. 77.

[15]Hazen, M. R. (2012). The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet. New York: Viking. 

[16]Weizman, I. (…)

[17]. Hustvedt, S. (1994). The Blindfold. London: Sceptere. P. 147.

[18]NOAA (2018). ‘Why Do We Have Oceans?’. National Ocean Service. Accessed 12 October 2018.


[20]Hazen, M. R. (2012). The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet. New York: Viking. P. 05

[21]Nyctophilia is the preference for the night or darkness.

[22]Parts of this paragraph are borrowed from my PhD thesis, Interruption Writing a Dissident Architecture.

S. Karami (2018). Interruption: Writing a Dissident Architecture.Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology. P. 288.

[23]Washuta, E. (2016). ”They Just Dig: On Writing, Coal Mining, and Fear”. Literary Hub Accessed 20 May 2018.

[24]Butcher, M. (2010). ‘Black Lung Disease’. Disabled World Towards Tomorrow. Accessed 28 November 2018.

[25]Orwell, G. & Davison (2001). Orwell’s England. London: Penguin Books. P. 68

[26]Eschner, K. (2016). ‘The Story of the Real Canary in the Coal Mine’. Accessed 25 October 2018.

Gaz or Earth's Sigh

Coal Dust

Burried Seas