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The Ethics of Dust

Eva Ebersberger and Daniela Zyman
Jorge Otero-Pailos
An insight to the work of Jorge Otero-Pailos for the 53rd Venice Biennale. With texts by Thordis Arrhenius, Daniel A. Barber, Daniel Birnbaum, Valeria Burgio, Dorota Chudzicka, Lorenzo Fusi, David Gissen, Francesca von Habsburg, Caroline A. Jones, Adam Phillips, and Raqs Media Collective; as well as a conversation between Francesca von Habsburg, Albert Heta, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Dinko Peračić, François Roche, Andreas Ruby, and Mark Wigley.

For better or worse, pollution is one of our most important products. If pollution could be preserved, what would it tell us about our social, cultural and industrial past? What sort of ethical questions would a history of pollution raise? Because of pollution’s negative connotations, its effects are indiscriminately removed from our buildings and environment. But these are our best records of airborne pollution. Part of our history is erased when such cleaning takes place. The Ethics of Dust displays the pollution that was ‘saved’ from a wall inside the ex-Alumix factory in Bolzano / Bozen, which has accumulated dust since the times when it was built during Mussolini’s government. In a two-week performance, Otero-Pailos and his team of architectural conservators scientifically transferred the pollution onto latex casts. Following the tradition of nineteenth-century archeologists, who made plaster casts of the world’s monuments so that European academics could study the architecture of distant cultures, Otero-Pailos suggests a new way of looking at architecture and our history.