Pia Borg’s video Silica, is exhibited in CHAPTER I – STRANGERS COMING TO STAY.
The Australian-born artist and filmmaker Pia Borg (b. 1977) makes films and installations using 16mm and 35mm photography, archives, and animation to investigate historical events and imagined futures. She was recently named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film in Filmmaker magazine. She is the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Golden Leopard for best international short at the 2014 Locarno Film Festival for the experimental documentary Abandoned Goods. In the same year, she completed one third of the triptych film Through the Hawthorn, which was awarded the grand prize at the Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film as well as jury prizes in Krakow, Annecy, France, and the Fantoche festival in Baden, Switzerland. Her film-installation Crystal World (2013) was awarded best experimental film at the Melbourne International Film Festival, and Palimpsest (2009) received first prize at the Oriel Davies Open exhibition. Her first film, Footnote (2004), was nominated for an Australian Academy Award. Her films have been in the official selection of the Cannes Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, SXSW, and Experimenta, among others.
Pia Borg, Silica, 2017, video, 22 minutes. Part science fiction, part essay, Silica explores territorial constructs and the boundaries of the real and the mediated in an opal mining town in the South Australian desert. Charting the journey of a film location scout in search of otherworldly landscapes, Silica investigates notions of settlement and belonging through its exploration of a town in the midst of abandonment. With the opal resources increasingly depleted by the mining work – and fake replica gems, indistinguishable from the real thing, easily created in laboratories in Europe – people are deserting the town, leaving a fleeting trace on ancient landscapes that are also marked by the presence of indigenous Australians who walked the deserts for thousands of years. Combining microscopic photography of opals with computer-generated landscapes and objects, Silica blurs notions of the actual and the imaginary to probe ideas of ‘value’, which support not only the gem trade but wider questions of identity, mythology and cosmology. This blurring of the actual and imaginary is further embodied in the former sets of science-fiction films that are dotted around the town’s lunar landscape.