Steve McQueen, 'Gravesend' (2007), film still

Image: courtesy the artist, Thomas Dane Gallery and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, Paris and London

Cast, Helston

Steve McQueen

5 May – 3 June, CAST

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Free admission, no booking required

Steve McQueen’s film Gravesend is concerned with the mining of coltan, a dull black mineral used in capacitors, which are vital components in mobile phones, laptops, and other electronics. Juxtaposing an animated fly-by of the Congo River with footage of workers sifting through dark earth and robots processing the procured material in a pristine, brightly lit laboratory, the film’s disjunctions allegorise the very real economic, social and physical distance this material traverses as it moves from the third to the first world. Its final sequence, a time-lapse shot of a sun setting behind smokestacks, brings everything full circle, rendering visual a scene described at the outset of Joseph Conrad’s celebrated novel, Heart of Darkness.

Unexploded (2007) shown on a nearby monitor, is a minute-long film made by McQueen when he was sent to Iraq as a war artist and filmed – from multiple perspectives – a crater left by an unexploded bomb in a building in Basra.

Technical installation of Steve McQueen’s work at CAST was supported by Thomas Dane Gallery.

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen is a British artist celebrated for his moving image work, and is also the acclaimed director of feature films such as Hunger, Shame and 12 Years a Slave. Born in London, he currently lives and works in London and Amsterdam. More

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