Tantalum Memorial, honoring those who died in coltan wars

Tantalum Memorial

Tantalum Memorial“, by the artists Harwood, Wright, Yokokoji is a telephony-based memorial built from a 1938 telephone exchange rescued from the old Alumix factory in Bolzano, Italy which is meant to address the people who have died in the “coltan wars” in the Congo. The project was built from a series of electromagnetic Strowger switches which were instrumental in enabling the first automatic telephone exchange dating back to 1888. This device is connected to live phone conversations of London’s Congolese community as they participate in “Telephone Trottoire”, a concurrent project also built by the artists. The project functions as a “social telephony” network that calls Congolese listeners, plays them a phone message inviting them to record a comment and pass it on to a friend. This process builds off of the traditional Congolese practice of “radio trottoire” which includes the transference of news and gossip on street corners in order to avoid state censorship.

Jonah Brucker-Cohen