Water & Coltan

from the series: landscapes and bodies
Kötter / Israel / Limberg (Berlin) / Artists in Residence
landscapes and bodies is a five-part performance series that addresses issues of spatial policy as well as the social and ecological impact of mining, both above and below the surface. Following the project components “Gold & Coal” which premiered at Residenz in November 2019, the next parts “Water & Coltan” investigate the permanent burdens in the post-mining area of the Ruhr region as well as coltan-mining in the eastern part of the DR Congo. The result will be an immersive spatial parcours, consisting of a 360° VR-documentary film and a performance which the audience will traverse in small groups.

landscapes and bodies #3: WATER
After the end of the hard coal era, the Ruhr era is not only struggling with a structural change affecting societies and urban spaces but also with the immediate permanent consequences of resource mining. If the past two centuries in the Ruhr region were chiefly determined by coal, a different element is now taking over a concealed but crucial place in every future scenario for communal life in the region: water. Underground pumping stations have been installed in the former tunnels to make sure that the rising water level caused by mine drainage water does not contaminate the ground water and thus the drinking water. Above-ground pumps prevent the emergence of swamps and lake landscapes in lowered areas. Along the river Emscher, which has to be pumped up to a necessary gradient at three different locations before it flows into the Rhine, re-naturated areas and new residential quarters have been created at (formerly) industrial locations. “Water” reflects the absence of water as a permanent requirement for survival and its presence as visual and temporary natural scenery in the post-coal Ruhr region.

landscapes and bodies #4: COLTAN
The natural resource coltan is of global importance; as an end product, it can be found in various technical devices, e.g. in every smartphone. The project component “Coltan” focuses on the current prospects of active miners involved in coltan mining in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the basis of numerous conversations, “Coltan” joins them in telling socially, economically and politically complex stories that stand at the beginning of a global utilisation chain of the resource.
The history of coltan-mining in the east of the Congo is closely linked with the aftermath of the genocides in neighbouring Rwanda and with the financing of militias. Ethnically interpreted conflicts over territory and political influence went hand in hand with conflicts about access to and distribution of natural resources. It is a conflict dominated by men and the instrumentalization of sexualised violence and displacement that ensues is more often than not fought on the bodies of women. It is also a conflict that is almost exclusively narrated and handed down by men. Together with lawyer Olande Byamungu, social worker Yasmine Bisimwa and engineer Christian Muhigwa, this conflict will be retold, mainly by women working in artisanal mining and from their own perspective.

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Leipzig-premiere on 21.09.2021.


Christian Chokola Muhigwa, Yasmine Mugoli Bisimwa, Olande Emerance Byamungu (Performance)


Artistic management: Kötter/Israel/Limberg
Dramaturg: Anna Ptak
Production: ehrliche arbeit — freies Kulturbüro mit Leoni Grützmacher
Sound design: Paul Hauptmeier & Martin Recker, Marcin Lenarczyk

With the kind support of the Federal Cultural Foundation as part of the Doppelpass-programme and Kunststiftung NRW.
A coproduction with PACT Zollverein Essen.