While journeys to extraordinary places are the cornerstone of luxury travel, this project follows more well-concealed journeys taking place across global supply chains. It retraces rare earth elements, which are widely used in high end electronics and green technologies, to their origins. The film, developed with photographer Toby Smith, documents their voyage from container ships and ports, wholesalers and factories, back to the banks of a barely-liquid radioactive lake in Inner Mongolia, where the refining process takes place. Unknown Fields Division, in collaboration with Kevin Callaghan, have used mud from this lake to craft a set of three ceramic vessels. Each is sized in relation to the amount of waste created in the production of three items of technology – a smartphone, a featherweight laptop and the cell of a smart car battery. The resulting film and 3 vases will be on display at the V and A from the 25th of April.
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What is Luxury? - The V&A
25 April – 27 September 2015
What is Luxury? will interrogate ideas of luxury today. It will address how luxury is made and understood in a physical, conceptual and cultural capacity. Extraordinary works of craftsmanship will be on display including a couture gown by fashion designer Iris van Herpen and fine examples of haute horlogerie by British watchmaker George Daniels, alongside more unexpected projects which explore the cultural value of materials such as gold, diamonds and plastic. The future of luxury will be explored, asking questions about the role that time, space, privacy, well-being, social inclusivity and access to resources and skill may play in determining our choices and aspirations.
Rare Earthenware is a project by the Unknown Fields Division
Photography with Toby Smith
Ceramics with Kevin Callaghan/London Sculpture Workshop
Animation with Xristina Varvia