On the Interconnection of All Life
In the summer of 2018, Ursula Biemann was commissioned to undertake an extended field trip across the South of Colombia. Many surprising developments ensued from this initial journey in the Amazonian rainforest where the histories of colonial conquest and natural science intertwine. Forest Mind is the result of a series of territorial engagements through video-making, photography, academic research, personal narrative, and the co-creation of an Indigenous University with the Inga people of Colombia. The explorations focus on the intelligence in nature from both shamanic and scientific perspectives. In these tropical forests, human and nonhuman territorial projects become entangled, calling for new ways of generating knowledge that spur the imagination.
Online Audiovisual Monograph
The monograph covers my ecological and climate related video works from 2011 to 2021 in a bilingual English/Spanish edition. Rather than a printed volume, we felt that a monograph of my video work needed to strongly rely on the audiovisual experience, including video clips and audio recordings about my field trips.
Over the years, I have widely published on these videos. The texts in Becoming Earth are a stringent version of the ideas and research that went into these works. It includes an introduction The Poetics and Politics of Worlding reflecting on my artistic practice.
The monograph becoming earth went online on March 1, 2021.
Acoustic Ocean explores the underwater soundscape of the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway bringing us closer to the acoustic life of this “insomniac territory” for long believed to be silent. In the film’s narrative, the Aquanaut—a semi-fictional marine biologist interpreted by singer and environmental activist Sofia Jannok—performs the ritual placement of hydrophones, parabolic microphones, and recording devices along the shore to sense different sonic expressions of multiform sea creatures. Turning to the land, she also reveals the effects of climatic shifts on the Sami people, a Northern Scandinavian indigenous community she belongs to. The work brings to the surface the density of signs and meaningful vocalizations expressed by the inhabitants of the earth’s liquid universe paving the way for the new relations between human and non-human lifeforms.
World of Matter is an international project investigating raw materials and the complex ecologies of which they are a part. In light of the acute problems resulting from human-induced transformation of the earth and its systems, it is tempting to strike a dramatic tone. However, the perspective of crisis also calls upon us to reconsider–at a fundamental level, and in slow, subtle, and unspectacular ways–how we understand and interact with the world of things.
The investigations presented in this book, undertaken in many world regions and post-national spaces, propose a wide range of aesthetic and ethical approaches to the handling of resources, while challenging the capitalistic assumption that the planet’s materials are primarily for human consumption. By drawing connections between works that derive from artistic practice, journalism, philosophy, activism, and other realms of research, World of Matter provides a place of commonality for eco-logical imaginaries.
On the Cosmopolitics of Amazonia
This book navigates across a frontier landscape—the living forests of western Amazonia.
Situated at the transition between the Amazon floodplains and the Andean mountains, this border zone is one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth and fulfills vital functions in global climate regulation. It is also the home of indigenous nations and a land of great ethno-cultural diversity. Underlying this vast territory are immense deposits of oil, gas, and minerals, most of which remain untapped to this day. Recent years have seen the expansion of large-scale extraction activities in western Amazonia, driven by escalating competition between states and multinational corporations over the control of these strategic natural resources.
Künstlerische Praxis im Feld
Diese Publikation meiner Videos und Schriften aus den letzten zwölf Jahren zeichnet zwei parallele Prozesse nach: erstens die Ermittlung eines geografischen und politischen Gebiets, das für meine Kunstpraxis von Interesse ist, und zweitens das Abstecken eines Forschungs- gebiets am Schnittpunkt verschiedener Methoden der Wissenserzeugung, das als Ort für diese Praxis infrage kommt. Dass ich mich zugleich den geopolitischen und sozialen Transformationen zuwendete und der Form, in der diese in einem erweiterten ästhetischen Feld erörtert werden können, hängt damit zusammen, dass diese beiden Komplexe konzeptuell verwandt sind. (ub)
Artistic Practice in the Field
Video Works 1998-2008
This substantial monograph on and around Ursula Biemann’s practice provides an opportunity to engage with more than a decade of her video art production and writing. Through a range of essays by cultural theorists, as well as texts by the artist herself and generous visual documentation, this book surveys the numerous artistic and visual research projects Biemann has conducted throughout the contested trans-national territories of the world. She has consistently developed a unique aesthetic language with which to explore her concerns with the concept of borders and the contemporary forms of migration that they produce.
Movements of Life Across North Africa
The publication accompanies the art and research project on the politics of mobility and containment in the Maghreb. Since the fortification of the European outer rim and the worldwide measures taken against terrorism, the relations between Muslim North Africa and Europe have undergone major transformations. Sub-Saharan transit migration is now the dominant and undoubtedly the most mediated form of movement in the region; it has turned the Maghreb into a transit zone. The Maghreb Connection tracks the current gates, routes and modes of trans-Saharan migration and looks at the elaborate systems of information and social organization that have grown up around it. In this research, the art projects examine the movement of people not as an isolated phenomenon but in relation to the flow of resources, information, images and capital in the Mediterranean region.
Becoming Europe and Beyond
The book B-Zone compiles the territorial research and collaborative art project on what was to become a part of the European Union: the transitory geographies of Southeast Europe, the Balkans, Turkey reaching as far as the Caucasus.
Each of the three core projects unfold as they follow the trajectory and traces of large-scale transnational infrastructures laid down in the territories of former communist states and beyond.
The Video Essay in the Digital Age
Stuff It is an illustrated collection of texts by video artists and cultural theorists who illuminate the video essay in its role as crossover and communicator between art, theory and critical practice in all its variations: from monologues of disembodyment to cartographies of diaspora experiences and transnational conditions, from the essay as the organisation of complex social shifts to its technological mutation and increasing digitalisation. Much has happened since Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil, which had marked, in the beginning of the 80s, the emergence of a post-structuralist cinematographic practice defined as film essays.
The publication accompanying the exhibition with the same title at the Generali Foundation in Vienna, documents projects of five international art collectives, which pursue questions of global miration, changing work environments, and worldwide information systems, and outline alternative models for a new geographic praxis.
The exhibition and this book pursue questions around the transformative quality of locations and geographies at a time when subjects are no longer bound to one particular place. Rather than focussing on the formation of dislocated subjectivities due to global migration or the participation in virtual world-wide activities, Geography and the Politics of Mobility looks at the way places are being constituted through them.
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