Tantalum Memorial – Residue

Harwood, Wright, Yokokoji

21 October 2008

Installation, telephone exchange, sound. Courtesy: the artists.

Tantalum Memorial is a series of telephony-based memorials to the more than four million people who have perished in the so-called “Coltan Wars” that have gone on in the Congo region since 1998. Coltan ore is mined for the metal tantalum, an essential component of mobile phones, which is now extremely valuable and therefore coveted by the international mining industry and warring militias. Tantalum Memorial – Residue consists of a towering rack of switching devices from a 1938 telephone exchange rescued from the old Alumix factory in Bolzano. The telephone switches are triggered by a computer tracking calls from Telephone Trottoire, a “social telephony” network established by the artists for use by the international Congolese diaspora.