Arne Schmitt’s new photo book is devoted to a single material: basalt, a volcanic rock that has been mined for thousands of years in the Osteifel quarries of Mayen and Mendig. Its hardness coupled with its porous structure made it an ideal raw material for millstones, and it thus became a commodity that was traded far and wide. In the Osteifel region local houses were built from basalt. In the boom years that began midway through the nineteenth century, an entire building culture developed around the material, with the result that on many streets the houses still have a matt dark-grey appearance.
Schmitt’s numerous black-and-white photographs juxtapose the different states, treatment processes, and applications of the rock. The constant features of the natural material help bring into focus its transformation into a cultural product. Basalt: origin usage exaltation is to be published in conjunction with a solo exhibition at the Bielefelder Kunstverein in April 2018.