Asbestos the Magic Mineral, 2021

The words Asbestos the Magic Mineral adorned the facade of the Jonh's-Manville pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair in New York. At the time the phrase stood for the promise of a material that would bring prosperity and security to us all. Asbestos was welcomed as if it were gold. Now, more than 80 years later, the mineral is no longer so magical: asbestos appears to be the dormant death in our midst.

In the exhibition Asbestos the Magic Mineral, Anne-Jan Reijn opens the doors of his asbestos temple. The asbestos minerals that Reijn himself retrieved from a mine in northern Italy raise questions about the thin line between safety and the danger we expose ourselves to. Today, clean air without harmful viruses and deadly dust particles cannot be taken for granted: at any moment you can come into contact with invisible risks. How do you arm yourself
against that which you cannot see? Reijn catches the danger between layers of plastic, glass and concrete and thus marks the threat;
finally it is possible to look the enemy back in the eye.

This project was made possible by the generous support of Stichthing NDSM, Mondriaan Fonds, AFK, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and Stokroos

  Marking Asbestos, 2021

Balangero (installation view), 2014
Video (loop, 8 min 19)
In Balangero, Reijn sets out on a pilgrimage to the enclosed Balangero mine in northern Italy. In this mine, the mineral chrysotile (also known as white asbestos) was extracted until 1990. For a long time Balangero was the largest asbestos producer in Europe. From this trip,Reijn brought back some stones that are presumed to contain chrysotile fibres.

Asbestos temple (installation view), 2021
Asbestos temple (installation view), 2021

Relic #1, 2021
Chrysotile mineral from Balangero in glass, 20x6x5cm

  Relic #3, 2021
Chrysotile mineral from Balangero in epoxy, brass and steel-wire, 25x8x8cm
Relic #4, 2021
Chrysotile mineral from Balangero in epoxy, brass and steel-wire, 23x15x15cm
  Corrugated and reinforced, 2021
Corrugated sheet of PU resin and chrysotile, 37x55x3cm
The best-known product incorporating asbestos in the Netherlands is the corrugated roofing sheet. In its production, cement was mixed with asbestos fibres to substantially increase its strength and fire resistance.
Microfibres, 2021
Electron microscope images, 70x100cm
Microscopy is the only method for determining asbestos with certainty. These images are confirmation that the fibres Reijn took from Balangero are chrysotile.
Images made by Esmee Geerken
Asbestos the Magic Mineral Souvenir (medaillon), 2021
Tin cast, 16x16cm
The Asbestos the Magic Mineral Souvenir Shop sells reproductions of the relief created by Hildreth Meière at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. At the time, the Johns-Manville pavilion painted a picture that asbestos was the great promise of prosperity and safety.