Biography

 

Ursula Biemann (born 1955, Zurich, Switzerland) is an artist, writer, and video essayist. Her artistic practice is strongly research oriented and involves fieldwork in remote locations where she investigates climate change and the ecologies of oil and water. She works the findings into multi-layered videos by connecting the micropolitics on the ground with a theoretical macro level, proposing a reflexive exploration of planetary and videographic organization. 

Biemann’s pluralistic practice spans a range of media including experimental video, interview, text, photography, cartography and materials, which converge in highly formalized spatial installations. In her videos, the artist interweaves vast cinematic landscapes with documentary footage, SF poetry and academic findings to narrate a changing planetary reality. Her work also adopts the form of publications, lectures, and curatorial as well as collaborative research projects. 

Her earlier writing and experimental video work focused on the gendered dimension of migration. She also made space and mobility her prime category in the curatorial projects “Geography and the Politics of Mobility”, “The Maghreb Connection“, and the widely exhibited art and research project Sahara Chronicle on clandestine migration networks. With Black Sea Files (2005) Biemann shifts the primary focus to natural resources and their situated materiality. In 2010 she became an initiating member of the World of Matter collective project on resource ecologies. 

Her recent fieldwork has taken her to the Amazon and the Arctic region where she engages the larger temporalities of climate change with the project Forest Law, Deep Weather and Subatlantic. 

The artist had solo exhibitions at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein n.b.k., Bildmuseet Umea in Sweden, Nikolaj Contemporary Art in Copenhagen, Helmhaus Zurich, Lentos Museum Linz, and at film festivals FID Marseille and TEK Rome. Her work also contributed to major exhibitions at the Arnolfini Bristol; Tapies Foundation Barcelona; Museum of Fine Arts Bern; LACE, Los Angeles, KIASMA Helsinki, San Francisco Art Institute; Jeu de Paume, Paris, Steirischer Herbst, Graz, Kunstverein Hamburg and many others; In addition, the artist has participated in the International Art Biennials in Sao Paulo, Gwangju, Shanghai, Liverpool, Bamako, Istanbul, Montreal, Venice, Thessaloniki, and Sevilla. 

Ursula Biemann received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts (1986) in New York and pursued post-graduate studies at the Whitney Independent Study Program (ISP) in New York where she lived most of the 1980s. Until 2014 she was a senior researcher at the Zurich University of the Arts and still ges lectures and semiars worldwide.

Biemann is appointed Doctor honoris causa in Humanities by the Swedish University Umea (2008) and received the 2009 Prix Meret Oppenheim, the national art award of Switzerland. She is on the board of the academic journal Geo-Humanities and is a member of the Zurich art commission.