Paradoxes of a Diamond
154 vacuum packed bricks of stored dried alga from the Venice lagoon, steel-framed organic painting (Winogradsky column), algal pigment on alga paper, peridotite stone, display cabinet with herbarium, drawing, illustrations, SEM photographs and prints of test results

Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarce anything; scarce anything can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarce any value in use; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it.

Paradoxes of a Diamond is an interdisciplinary and site-specific art project, which explores the history of Venice’s lagoon leading to a contemporary ecological perspective, and uses the algae as a legitimate biological indicator à of the lagoon's environmental state. It investigates the heavy metal contamination level of three algae species (Gracilaria gracilis, Sargassum muticum and Ulva rigida) in the lagoon environment, their accumulation of carbon dioxide and their “utility” as a reservoir of carbon. Inspired by the Diamond - Water Paradox formulated by Adam Smith in 1776, in The Wealth of Nations, the project reflects on the economic concepts of use and exchange values, as well as on the marginal utility of an ecosystem. Paradoxes of a Diamond evokes the production of a diamond out of the carbon stored within the algae collected from classified C contaminated sediment in the central parts of the lagoon. After measuring the levels of carbon and heavy metals of a small sample of algae, 150kg of extra algae were collected to obtain the required quantity of carbon for the creation of a diamond, which unique coloration would be defined by the metal composition of the collected algae. The diamond, however, was not completely synthetized, but it are instead symbolically represented as a "reservoir" of carbon through an installation consisting of sealed, vacuum packed bricks of dried algae. The chemical process of the synthesis of the diamond is thus maintained in a state of incompleteness and potentiality: the diamond is, if you will, a diamond in the making rather than a completed diamond.

Paradoxes of a Diamond is exhibited as a multiple installation composed of various bricks of stored dried algae, a steel-framed organic painting of Class C sediments from the lagoon in a reinterpretation of the Winogradsky column, a device for culturing a wide diversity of microorganisms, various illustrations on Shiro Alga Paper made of seaweed, herbarium, test results and prints of scans performed in the laboratory, and a Peridotite stone. The exhibition thus features several artifacts and a series of illustrations and models that both engage with and resist to the exchange value of the diamond great brilliance. The carbon “reservoir” engages the viewer to examine the relationship between the organic and the mineral domains, while the illustrations raise questions about what lies in between them.

Paradoxes of a Diamond was developed with support of Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) and Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa in Venice, Italy. The project was conducted in cooperation with Adriano Sfriso and Alessandro Buosi, at the Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics at the University Ca' Foscari in Venice, and Paola Del Negro and Francesca Malfatti of the National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics in Trieste. Thanks to the EM facility at the Univeristy of Studies of Trieste and Favini Srl for their support.

Dimensions variable  

Carbon Capture and Storage Proposal for an Indefinite Period
Wood shelves with 154 vacuum packed bricks of dried alga species
2pcs, 170 x 80 x 50 cm

Carbon Capture and Storage Proposal for an Indefinite Period
154 vacuum packed bricks of dried alga species (Gracilaria, Sargassum, Ulva) sampled in the Venice lagoon

Still life - Venice (Winogradsky column)
Class C contaminated sediment and water collected from the Venice lagoon, (various microorganisms), chalk, egg yolk, newspaper, plexiglass, steel frame
180 x 43 x 8 cm

apRed I / apBrown I / apGreen I
Algal pigment extracts, alga paper, wood and glass cylinder
3pcs, 100 x 11 cm d.

Peridotite stone, wood structure, metal wire
130 x 57 x 50 cm

Wood and glass display cabinet with various illustrations and artifacts
Dimensions variable (100 x 190 x 60 cm)

Colour projection (Diamond)
Metal pigments (Fe, Cr, Cu, Zn) and glue on glass in four parts
18 x 24 x 5 cm

Analysis, organic carbon and heavy metal scan

Gracilaria / Sargassum / Ulva
6 black and white SEM photographs

Map projection (Carbon)
Pencil on alga paper
40 x 50 cm