by Ezio D’Agostino

For centuries, Luxembourg used to be a very poor country, despite hosting in subsoil part of world’s biggest iron reserve. The iron’s quality was poor, due to phosphorus content that prevented it from any use. Only in 1877, Sidney Thomas patented a method to separate iron from phosphorus. Luxembourg started developing an important metallurgic industry, becoming in few years biggest steel exporter country in the world. Iron’s mining and processing gave a consistent wealth to the country until iron crisis in 1970, when Luxembourg decided to review its economy giving way to a new cycle based almost entirely on financial services, becoming soon the world’s second richest country. At least until now.

Fearing a new financial crisis, Luxembourg revealed in 2016 its third development cycle: the exploitation of mining resources coming from asteroids and objects near the Earth (NEOs), digging metals that are rare on our planet. Supported by the most advanced technology companies and the most powerful investment banks around the world, the SpaceResources program aims to offer a legal framework to the exploitation of mineral resources in the extra-atmospheric space, today protected by an international treaty of 1967 that prevents its exploitation as a heritage of humanity. Luxembourg will become the main research and construction centre for forthcoming space freight planes and the “safe harbour” where to report and commercialize raw materials extracted in space. First mission is scheduled for 2020.

NEOs aims to question the idea of progress itself by reconstructing the economic and technological history of Luxembourg and reflecting on the process of dematerialization of wealth in this country. Trough images that seem to hind at a futuristic and metaphysical world – but that come, actually, from the two first development cycles of Luxembourg, based respectively on iron’s exploitations and on financial services – NEOs aims to be a visual hypothesis on the forthcoming “capitalist space” trough the visible remains of our era, an object too close to the Earth to be seen from the right distance.