Home > 2018 Exhibition
L’Oro di Gondo (the Gold of Gondo)
Gondo is a small town located on the border between Italy and Switzerland along the Sempione road connecting Milan with Brig. The history of the area is tied to gold. The first records of gold mining go back to Roman times, but the gold rush proper began in 1600 with the arrival of Baron Stockalper. Stockalper mined more than 20 gold seams in a series of mines. In those days mines were worked manually with just hammers and nails. When Baron Stockalper died the mines were abandoned for over a century until they were eventually acquired by a Parisian mining company called Société anonyme des Mines d’or. This company modernised the extraction system and after only a few years increased its workforce from 100 to 500 miners. The daily output reached as much as 40 grammes per day and between 1892 and 1897 they extracted a total of 33 kilos of gold. Part of this production was used to mint 29 GondoGoldvreneli (which are highly prized nowadays: in 2009 one coin was sold for about 60,000 euros). After 1897 the extraction process became unsustainable and the mines were closed.
But about 12 months ago another “gold rush” started. However, this time it was a rather different kind of gold: crypto currencies (bitcoins, ethereum, monero). The company that opened this new “mine” was founded by a group of young locals (about 10 people in all). In this “mine” they extract crypto currencies on behalf of the company itself, as well as for independent clients. The extraction work takes place using video cards (GPU) that make mathematical calculations which, under certain conditions, allow them to find crypto currencies. There are 100 machines operating in the mine.
In both cases it is due to the specific environmental conditions of Gondo that these activities became possible. On the one hand, the particular composition of rocks which propagated the formation of gold seams that could be mined, and on the other, the low temperatures typical of this mountainous region, combined with a low-cost electricity supply (from hydro-electric turbines), made Gondo an ideal place for mining cryptocurrency.
And the final analogy is in the terminology. The English word for both activities – gold extraction and cryptocurrency extraction – is “mining”, while the people who carry out these operations are called “miners”. Using historical documents, together with photos of the Gondo landscape, the cryptocurrency mine and historical artifacts in the gold museum of Gondo, the exhibited work gives us a multi-level interpretation of this town, of its history and its future.
Claudio Cerasoli Winner of the 2018 Canon Giovani Fotografi Award
Claudio Cerasoli (1986, L’Aquila, Italy) after graduating in commerce and economics took a 3-year master’s degree in photography at the ISFCI school in Rome. His main area of research is in the natural landscape and its relationship to man and architecture. Has work has appeared in a variety of media, including Io Donna, DomusWeb and Internazionale.He lives and works in L’Aquila and Turin.