Open air Miners Museum Mayrau,
Kladno, Tsjechië
July 2004


Artproject by Iris Honderdos (installation artist) and Arno Peeters (sound designer and composer) during the international workshop "Under Construction, a workshop in history, architecture and site-specific art".

Theme of this workshop was the coalmine, which had closed down in 1997, so therefore the workshop also took place in the industrial complex itself, which now serves as an open-air museum. The place was abandoned on the last working day, leaving everything ‘as is’: from the dirty clothes and nude pictures on the walls to the soap in the showers.

This installation is based on the memories of miners who have worked in the Mayrau mines.
The miners were asked to write down their thoughts, dreams and fears related to their heavy work underground onto each side of a transparent plastic bag. After that, they'll be asked to blow air into the bags: an exceptional task since most of the miners have trouble breathing as a result of polluted lungs. Their voice and heavy breathing was also recorded.
bags   bags

In one of the two empty elevator shafts, these bags were put into a column formed by a circle of steel wires, rising from a pile of coals. The bags are floating upwards and around inside the column. The recordings of their voices and breathings are played through small speakers, hidden inside the pile.

The way the mine appears to visitors now is close to the serene atmosphere found in a cemetery, but in fact this area was one of the loudest environments one can imagine when it was in operation.

These sounds that once were apparent and familiar to the miners, were invoked in an artistic manner and diffused through the space of the installation, again using hidden speakers in the ceiling, walls, tubes and holes in the ground as to bring back the once so lively sounding environment which the workers knew so well.

All part of history now and therefore already auditive fossil’s of gone bye days.

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