The artist Johannes Büttner (*1985) is interested in the relations between humanity, nature and technology. His works, which often show cyber punk influences, examine the question of the extent to which technological advances fail to contribute any substantial improvement to human conditions, occurring instead with the aim of maximizing profits. Johannes Büttner’s installation Inverted Mine at the former General Blumenthal Mine references the vision of journalist Dan DeQuille. While chronicling the development of silver mining in 19th century America, DeQuille described a mine rising up out of the ground, an inverted shaft reaching thousands of feet up into the sky like a skyscraper. And indeed: the construction of tower blocks first became possible by using the raw materials and technological developments of the mining industry, such as ventilation systems.
From the ceiling of the Weißkaue (white changing room), where the workers’ clean clothes used to be hung high in metal baskets, Johannes Büttner suspends a type of mobile made up of a range of humming ventilators and wind gauges, together with claw-like hands. Recurrent tipping points introduce moments of extreme tension to their fragile equilibrium. The ventilators, resembling a swarm of drones, correspond with another piece that was originally created in 2019 for the Istanbul Biennial entitled The possibility of another life expresses itself directly in a cop car on fire and obliquely in the faces of my friends. This consists of a group of sculptures standing on their heads made of soil, clay, plaster and electronic waste, that vibrate and move imperceptibly on the spot. Both elements, the figures on the floor and the suspended construction, are combinded in the installation to form a striking, kinetic installational whole.
The installation Inverted Mine was developed as part of the exhibition Ruhr Ding: Klima and was on display from May 22—June 27, 2021 in the colliery General Blumenthal in Recklinghausen.