Author: Thompson Nguyen

Deep, Far and Under: Mapping Gold Extraction and Displacement in South Africa

Studio: ARCS 5106 – MArch Option Studio 2 – Deep Dust | The Killing Dark

Professor: Ozayr Saloojee

Year: Winter 2021

Project Description

These three maps illustrate the material, virtual and spiritual value of gold extraction in and around Johannesburg. They explore the ways that gold mining displaces the ground by going deep, going far and going under the earth at urban, global, and cultural scales.

The first map shows how gold mining goes deep into the Witwatersrand, seeking mineral deposits within the core of Johannesburg. Western colonies have seized and hollowed out this rich geological moment over the last two centuries, setting the relationship of exploitation between white settlers in the North and black labourers from the South.

The second map shows how gold travels far, dissolving solid minerals into virtual wealth circulating across the globe. South Africa is part of the global looting machine, quantifying gold deposits across continents to bits and bytes of financial products that never make its way back to the grounds it originated from.

What remains of a land that has been violently extracted? The third map shows how gold mining goes under the sacredness of human remains. Through forced removals of homes and gravestones, ancestral lands for the living and the dead are displaced across the continent — archiving grief and loss into deep dust.