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Geometries | Locus / Agricultural University of Athens
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In his research-based and process-oriented artistic practice Uriel Orlow is concerned with spatial manifestations of memory and blind spots in history. At Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen Orlow is presenting his ongoing research project Theatrum Botanicum (2015–2017). The large-scale work series sees the botanical world as a stage for politics. From the viewpoints of South Africa and Europe the project shows plants as witnesses and actors in history, as dynamic agents which combine nature and humanity, rural and cosmopolitan medicine, tradition and modernity — through various geographies, histories and knowledge systems. Videos, sound works, photographs and installations illuminate botanical nationalism and other legacies of colonialism, plant migration and invasion, bio-piracy, flower diplomacy under apartheid, the role of the classification and naming of plants along with the garden planted by Mandela and his fellow inmates in Robben Island prison.
Imbizo Ka Mafavuke / Mafavuke’sTribunal, (2017) is an experimental documentary set at the edge of a nature reserve in Johannesburg. A kind of Brechtian ‘Lehrstück’, the film shows the preparations for a people’s tribunal where traditional healers, activists and lawyers come together to discuss indigenous knowledge and bio-prospecting. The protagonists in the film slip into different roles and make use of real-world cases involving multinational pharmaceuticals scouting in indigenous communities for the next wonder drug. Ghosts of colonial explorers, botanists and judges observe the proceedings.
Imbizo Ka Mafavuke / Mafavuke’s Tribunal is part of Orlow’s major new body of work and ongoing research called Theatrum Botanicum, which looks to the botanical world as a stage for politics at large through film, photography, installation and sound.
Orlow’s film installation at The Andrew Brownsword Galleries also includes film Muthi, and sound work What Plants Were Called Before They Had a Name (2016).
Muthi (2016-17), 17’00” takes us to South Africa where the artist documents the infrastructure around traditional herbal practices in Johannesburg, the Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal. Muthi is a comment on value and practice, whilst touching on the wider issues of the loss of indigenous knowledge and tradition, in the presence of modernity.
Orlow’s sound installation What Plants Were Called Before They Had a Name (2016) re-creates an oral dictionary of plant names in a dozen South African languages, not only restituting audibility but also spirituality.
In this exhibition, Orlow’s interest in how colonialist categorisation expunges indigenous systems of knowledge and belonging, took him to South Africa. Here, he found that not only did the British and Dutch re-name indigenous plants and try to eradicate as dangerous the use of herbal remedies, they also imported 9000 different exotic plants, many of which choked local flora. Orlow’s extraordinary new body of work uses plants as a potent lens through which to explore the socio-political, economic and spiritual ramifications of colonialisation.
Orlow focuses on the important role of medicinal herbs or ‘muthi’ in South African culture, with 60% of the population consulting a healer, who can choose from over 3000 plant species. With European pharmaceuticals exploiting the market for ’natural’ cures, a new front has opened in the contest of who owns what the land grows, has always grown. In ‘What Plants Were Called Before They Had A Name’ (2015-ongoing), male, female and collective voices recite the names of native plants in ten African languages, from isiZulu and SePedi to isiXhosa and Khoi, which had no legitimacy under a Latin taxonomy. ‘Language relates to politics,’ says Orlow, ‘and plant classification can be a form of epistemic violence’ In this sense, the surround sound audio piece acts as a restorative and moving oral dictionary.
‘Echoes’ (2017) is a series of photographs of dried brown sap stains on protective paper from botanical repositories in South African herbaria which date back to the colonial era of exploration. The tracings tell nothing of the traditional names or uses of the plants and highlight the imposition of a one-dimensional classification system that was revered as objective and unrivalled. It’s difficult to look at these frail residues, which contrast the tending delicacy of the botanists working amidst the cruel and murderous savagery of apartheid and colonialism before.
‘The Fairest Heritage’ (2016-17), poignantly intercepts a version of history. During his research, Orlow discovered a film made in 1963 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kirstenbosch, the national botanical gardens of South Africa. Only three years after the Sharpeville Massacre and a year before Mandela’s incarceration for life on Robben Island, fifty international botanists toured South Africa, in a whites-only garden party. Orlow invited an African actor, Lindiwe Matshikiza, to interact with the projected images, delivering an elegantly silent addendum to the past, when the trade in exotic flowers evaded the boycott of South African goods till the late 1980s.
In this show, Orlow continues and develops his sensitive and pertinent re-working of histories, staging old documents in new settings, giving voice to those who have been muted to reconsider how agency can be re-enforced by art.
On 31. March at 14:45 there will be a film screening followed by a conversation between Uriel Orlow and Gabi Scardi at Cinema Aurora, Modica.
This is a rare opportunity to experience some of the most exciting, but most challenging artworks in Worcester’s collection.
For three weeks, the Art Gallery will be a changing feast of film and soundscapes exploring landscape in all its different facets – visit on different days to encounter all the works on show.
Curated by Chiara Nuzzi, the project What Happens to People and What Happens to the Land is the Same Thing explores the role of art in ecological emergence, investigating its intersections with environmental commitment, political ecology and indigenous knowledge in relation to our modernity. In this frame, the works by several artists develop different cosmologies in light of the specific topic of reconciliation, an approach facing a de-colonial sensibility in the contemporary engagement with art.
The project is thus divided in three different chapters covering in turn an evening of lectures and screening program where selected video works will establish new powerful relations and crucial questions, followed by a video exhibition, and concluded by a collective sound walk in a botanical garden on the French Riviera.
Curated by Chiara Nuzzi, screening works by Ursula Biemann & Paulo Tavares, the Karrabing Film Collective and Uriel Orlow.
The exhibition Healing (Healing in the active and passive sense of the word) is based on the fact that personal health and a healthy way of life in today’s society (above all, but not only in the western world) is such a highly valued asset. that the pursuit of health sometimes seems almost cultic. The definition of “being healthy” is different in different cultures, and the healing methods and procedures are different.
Medicine, healing and therapy will be addressed, taking into account the existence of certain tensions and paradoxes: be they interfaces between rationality and belief, between science and magic, between healing applications and rituals, or between natural and artificial substances or aids. In today’s globalized world, it is often not easy to draw a clear line between what is modern and progressive (qualities that we can associate with the development of technologies, science, chemistry, etc.) and what is in essence originated in a long tradition (which in turn is based on inherited knowledge, natural sources, but also on collective rituals and non-rational beliefs).
From the perspective of contemporary art, the exhibition as a whole intends to present various current perspectives on the topic of healing and health, thus placing the complex of issues in broader social, political and economic contexts. The fact that the exhibition builds on the tension between rational and irrational aspects of healing is a consequence of her concern to point out the close connection between these opposing aspects, which in the final analysis can not be separated.
The exhibition is organized by the Jindřich-Chalupecký-Gesellschaft and presents mainly young Czech artists in an international context, among them also selected winners and finalists of the Jindřich-Chalupecký Prize.
Curated by Tereza Jindrová
Exhibiting artists: Jana Doležalová, Marco Donnarumma, Romana Drdova, Jakub Jansa, Barbora Kleinhamplová, Martin Kohout, Uriel Orlov, Johana Střížková, Miroslava Večeřová & Pavel Příkaský
Group exhibition curated by Stefan Vicedom and Bernard Vienat with works by: Marcela Armas, Hicham Berrada, Carolina Caycedo, Julian Charrière, Andreas Greiner & Tyler Friedman, Galina Loonova, Uriel Orlow, Mario Pfeifer , Superflex, Jeronimo Voss, Pinar Yoldas
For modern people, the experience of certain scenarios often proves to be an effective medium for opening new perspectives on themselves and their present. Following on from this, the exhibition explores a special context of experience by initiating a fictional journey through time. A group of international artists enter the year 2318, where they encounter a new world without human species. Fundamental questions on dealing with our environment, the relationship between art and science as well as the late capitalist self-understanding of the human being form recurring moments of the artistic argument within the exhibition.
Fragments as a Tool – Memory and Archeology in Contemporary art
This event, curated by Lorenzo Bruni, is a cross-reading about one of the latest trends in contemporary art: the use of archives and the archaeological method adopted by artists to reflect not on the identity of a society of the past, but on our present.
Films by artists Maria Thereza Alves, Rossella Biscotti, Uriel Orlow, and Ulla Von Brandenburg will be screened in order to create a moment of encounter, informal debate, and reflection upon this theme.
John Hansard Gallery’s presents an evening of artist’s films in partnership with Southampton Film Week.
14. November 2017 | 7-9pm | FREE, booking required
The following films will be shown:
Shezad Dawood, Trailer, (2011), 15’00”
Uriel Orlow, Muthi (2016-17), 17’00”
Imogen Stidworthy, Barrabackslarrabang (2010), 9’13”
David Blandy, Child of the Atom (2011), 14’00”
Rosalind Nashashibi, Vivian’s Garden (2017), 29’50”
Uriel Orlow, Reader for the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) at the University of Westminster, received the Sharjah Biennial Prize 2017 for his work Theatrum Botanicum that was exhibited in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The multi-component work Theatrum Botanicum (2016) envisions the botanical world as both witness to and actor in the enduring legacy of colonialism in South Africa, looking to the botanical world as a stage for politics at large through film, photography, installation and sound.
Working from the dual vantage points of South Africa and Europe, the project considers plants as both witnesses and actors in history, and as dynamic agents – linking nature and humans, rural and cosmopolitan medicine, tradition and modernity – across different geographies, histories and systems of knowledge, with a variety of curative, spiritual and economic powers.