Last week, I had reviewed a video game discussing the perspective of environmental issues humans often do not consider – a bee’s. Today, I wanted to find an art piece that encompassed the harsh reality of coal mining and its associated industry/place in the grand scheme of capitalistic ideals and practices.
In my research, I found an article about an art exhibit in Germany specifically dedicated to the hundreds of years worth of coal mining in the country. It is worth noting that the existence of this gallery alone spoke volumes to me. It made me realize how intense the lasting effects of such an industry have left on hundreds of generations of everyday people. All of the pieces in the exhibit all resonate similarly: they all highlight the issues rooted from the usage/mining of coal.
The piece that spoke the most to me out of all of the pieces highlighted was Gluck Auf II by Claudia Terstappen (2018). It is a sculpture made from used miner equipment, notably over 200 miner helmets accentuating the bulk of the piece. There are also many figures of Santa Barbra surrounding the helmets. Santa Barbra is known for being the patron saint of coal miners; she is known for protecting miners from death caused by the dangerous conditions miners are known for working in. Given how prominent coal mining was in the early 20th century, Santa Barbra figures were found everywhere in German households. I personally feel that this piece illustrates how real these individual coal miners were. It is super common and easy to read about coal miners in a book and not accept their individuality and existence as people; however, it is not so easy to actually accept the raw reality of this industry: many people suffered at the hands of it. This piece illustrates just how many people put their faith into something/someone like Santa Barbra as a means for closure, knowing how dangerous the job was. The helmets in the middle of the piece sends this point home as well. It really helps people understand how dangerous these conditions were. In addition, it should also send the message to the viewing audience that these conditions are extremely inhumane and should never be repeated onto other humans ever again.