Ursula Biemann

Deep Weather

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CountrySwitzerland
Date2012
Medium/DimensionsHD Video 10'
CreditsCourtesy of the artist
VenueCCA

Deep Weather comprises ‘Carbon Geologies’, set in the tar sands of the boreal forests of Northern Canada, and ‘Hydro Geographies’, set in the near-permanently flood-threatened Bangladesh. Ursula Biemann’s new video essay pursues a connection between the aggressive extraction of materials, irreversible environmental meltdown and the gradually post-apocalyptic life conditions of human communities.

The connection is pursued through two narratives, one about oil, the other about water – vital ‘ur-liquids’, in the words of Biemann, ‘that form the undercurrents of all narrations as they are activating profound changes in the planetary ecology’. There is a primeval and easily romanticised link between oil and water. They are the liquids of civilisation as we know it. Seen as essential ‘resources’ for private wealth, these are also the liquids at the heart of global battle positions in the early 21st century. Oil and water are pulled together into the ecology of capital’s enclosures.

Deep Weather is a concise, self-consciously anti-futuristic work, where capitalism as an economy of techno-scientific progress ends up as a dystopia of machine absence. ‘Hands-on work by thousands without any mechanic help’, the artist suggests, ‘is what climate change will mean for most people in the Deltas of the global south’, as they try to build dams in order to save their communities from lethal flooding. ‘These are the measures’, Biemann proposes, ‘taken by populations who progressively have to live on water when large parts of Bangla will be submerged and water is declared the territory of citizenship’.