Anja Kirschner and David Panos, 2012
34 mins, Format: HD / 16:9
Drawing on references from archaeology, philosophy, mathematics and ritual,
Ultimate Substance departs from the hypothesis that the introduction of coinage in Mediterranean civilizations from 600BC effected a profound cognitive shift towards abstraction and was key to the emergence of western philosophic, scientific and dramatic traditions.
Filmed in and around the Attic mining region of Lavreotiki and the Numismatic Museum in Athens, Ultimate Substance attends to the material base on which ancient Athenian slaveholder democracy was founded. The vast underground mining complexes can be seen as an inverse image of the Acropolis, and as an entry point to history from below. Decommissioned in Roman times, the mines were rediscovered in the 19th century and made Lavrio the first industrial town of the modern Greek state. Today, the factory ruins house an educational museum dedicated to transmitting the working class history of the mining region.
This central landscape features as a palimpsest of different temporal strands that bear material witness to the division of sensual and abstract knowledges and the violence as well as the communal rites and struggles enacted through this schism to the present day.
Commissioned by Secession, Extra City Kunsthal Antwerpen, Liverpool Biennial and FACT, with support from Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, CentrePasquArt Biel, NEON and Arts Council England.