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Anja Kirschner & David Panos, Ultimate Substance, 2012.

In this new work, which will premiere at the 2012 Biennial, Kirschner and Panos return to their longstanding engagement with the tension between theory and practice, artistic form and historical facticity and the relation between economics and culture.

Drawing on references from archaeology, philosophy, mathematics and ritual the work departs from the hypothesis that the introduction of coinage in the ancient Greek world effected a profound cognitive shift that was key to the emergence of western philosophic, scientific and dramatic traditions.

Ultimate Substance was filmed in and around the Numismatic Museum, Athens and Lavriotiki, a nearby mining district, which provided the silver that constituted the material base on which the edifice of the classical Athenian city-state was founded.
In contradistinction to the popular image of the acropolis, the vast mining galleries propose an inverse image of antiquity. Abandoned in Roman times, the mines were re-discovered in the 19th Century making Lavrio the first factory town of the modern Greek state. In the 1970s the local mining industry was again dismantled. Today the factory ruins house an educational museum on mining history.

Exploring how these different temporal strands have become compounded in time, Kirschner and Panos' new work aims to consider the impact of this subterranean history on our present understanding of the fundamental division between sensual and abstract forms of knowledge and experience.

Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial and FACT (UK), Secession (AT), Extra City Kunsthal Antwerpen (BE), with support from the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (DE), CentrePasquArt Biel (CH), DEMERGON Daskalopoulos Foundation for Culture and Development (GR) and Arts Council England.