Biasca, Balconia &

epoxy, fibre glass, carpet, spraypaint, original eternit flower pots
soundtrack by Christian Blumberg
commissioned by Extra City Kunsthal Antwerp

Biasca, Balconia & Diabolo is the title of a sculpture that is copying a 1950s designer flower pot originally made out of asbestos cement. It is exhibited together with original flower pots by the same designer and part of a series of works related to the Eternit company.

It has been widely known for decades that inhaling asbestos fibres can produce particular types of cancers. This information has however been concealed by the corporations producing and distributing it in order to avoid loss of capital, workers’ strikes and victims’ rightful claims for justice Asbestos sheeting is a cheap, light, flexible, and dura-ble construction material. It has been distributed since the beginning of the twentieth century throughout the world in all sorts of public and private buildings – from nurseries to residential homes. The asbestos used by the Swiss-Belgian corporation Eternit was extracted from mines in southern Africa. The extraction happe-ned during the apartheid regime (1948-1990) through company-owned mines with the help of seasonal
workers. The pots – from small to gigantic and caricatural – reference Eternit objects still in circulation, and particularly a characteristic type of flowerpot that the company produced, namely the BIASCA or ‘elephant ear’ pot by Swiss designer Willi Guhl. This assemblage alludes to Eternit’s extensive distribution – in time and geography – and how such innocent objects conceal the fatality of the material, how sexy aesthetics hide its toxic heart.
Antonia Alampi