Artist Diemut Strebe shrouds a $2 million diamond in the ‘blackest black’, puts it at the New York Stock Exchange

Artist Diemut Strebe shrouds a $2 million diamond in the ‘blackest black’, puts it at the New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange. Courtesy Flickr Commons.
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The four C’s of diamonds, or the cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight, are how we assess diamonds. But, what happens when the diamond disappears? In just a couple of weeks, artist Diemut Strebe will make a diamond disappear, well kind of.

On September 13th, The Redemption of Vanity, an installation by Strebe will go on view at the New York Stock Exchange. The work consists of a 16.78 carat natural yellow diamond that is valued at about $2 million. The diamond, though, is covered in ‘the blackest black ever created,’ which is made of carbon nanotubes. What those carbon nanotubes (CNT) will do is make the diamond virtually invisible to the eye and the diamond will instead appear more or less like a plain black spot.

Now, if the idea of the world’s ‘blackest black’ sounds familiar, it’s because it is. A few years ago, Anish Kapoor acquired the sole right to use ‘Vantablack,’ a paint made out of the same type of CNTs that absorbs 99.6% of light. That move sparked controversy and led to other artists, most notably Stuart Semple, to begin developing their own version of the paint – Semple’s production has created a number of pigments, all of which can be used by artists everywhere except Kapoor. For her work, Strebe teamed up with scientist Brian Wardle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Strebe is the artist-in-residence, to use a paint he’s created that absorbs a staggering 99.96% of light. In 2012, Wardle worked with Trevor Paglen on his project The Last Picture and he created his CNT medium.

The diamond at the centre of The Redemption of Vanity is sourced from L.J. West Diamonds Inc. For Strebe, the value associated with the diamond was integral part of the artwork. She told ARTnews that ‘[The diamond] is enormous! I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a highly symbolic object. [This piece] could be seen as a challenge to the art market.’

Being on display at the stock exchange is interesting, too, given its reliance on money and spending. ‘That the piece is on display at the New York Stock Exchange is a good match,’ Strebe continued to ARTnews. ‘[The project] explores how material and immaterial value is attached to objects and concepts in reference to luxury, society and to art. Though both the diamond and the carbon nanotubes are made of the same element, carbon, the atomic lattice structure of the diamond and the CNT isn’t different. One reflects light to the extreme, and the other absorbs it to the most opposite extreme. It will appear entirely flat.’

The Redemption of Vanity by Diemut Strebe will be at the New York Stock Exchange from September 13th through November 25th.