Join us for a talk with Swiss artist, author, and video essayist Ursula Biemann whose visionary practice focuses on the planet’s changing climate and its ecological impact. Her videos Deep Weather (2013), Forest Law (2014), Subatlantic (2015), and Acoustic Ocean (2018) are on view in the Gene Siskel Film Center’s virtual cinema from October 18 - 24.
Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Video Data Bank.
Grounded in a research-based practice, Ursula Biemann’s videos, installations, and essays consider the relationship between politics and the environment across local, global, and planetary contexts. In recent years, her fieldwork has taken her from the Amazon, where indigenous people like the Inga are struggling to preserve their ecosystems and cosmovision, to the depths of the North Atlantic Ocean, where even deep sea creatures must navigate human-induced environmental change. Underscoring how people, flora, and fauna are intimately connected, Biemann’s projects challenge globalist models of resource extraction and exploitation while inviting viewers to rethink their relationships with the Earth.
Biemann has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin; Bildmuseet Umea, Sweden; Nikolaj Contemporary Art, Copenhagen; Helmhaus Zurich, Switzerland; Lentos Museum Linz, Austria; and at film festivals like FIDMarseille. Her work has been included in major exhibitions at the Arnolfini Bristol; Tapies Foundation Barcelona; Museum of Fine Arts Bern; Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki; San Francisco Art Institute; Jeu de Paume, Paris; Steirischer Herbst, Graz; Kunstverein Hamburg; and many others. Additionally, she has participated in the International Art Biennials in Sao Paulo, Gwangju, Shanghai, Taipei, Sharjah, Liverpool, Bamako, Istanbul, Montreal, Venice, Thessaloniki, and Sevilla.
In 2009, Biemann received the Prix Meret Oppenheim, the Swiss Grand Prize for Art, and in 2018, she was the recipient of the Prix Thun for Art and Ethics. She was awarded an honorary Ph.D. in Humanities by Umeå University (Sweden) and is on the board of the academic journal GeoHumanities.
Visionary Ecologies: Ursula Biemann
Ursula Biemann, 2013-2018, Switzerland, ca 80 minutes
Streaming October 18–24, Gene Siskel Film Center Virtual Cinema
In these four films—Deep Weather (2013), Forest Law (2014), Subatlantic (2015), Acoustic Ocean (2018)—artist Ursula Biemann examines the planet’s changing climate and its global ecological impact. Deep Weather travels from the Alberta tar sands to the deltas of Bangladesh to examine the interrelated geographies of oil and water. Forest Law charts indigenous efforts to legally define the Amazon as a living entity in the face of large-scale oil and mining activities. Subatlantic ponders the connections between melting glaciers, ancient microorganisms, and weather patterns from Greenland to the Caribbean. Acoustic Ocean explores the sonic ecology of marine life while proposing alternative models for human existence in the natural world.