Oil & Water: Resource, Environment, Conflict


A pioneer of contemporary art’s documentary turn, video essayist Ursula Biemann from Switzerland, Andrew Cumbers, Professor in the Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow, and Edinburgh-based photographer, researcher and writer Owen Logan discuss the global environmental crisis, its connection with economic imperatives and art’s response. Each speaker will present a 20-minute long paper while the event will conclude with an open discussion between the panel and the audience. The event will be introduced by ECONOMY curators, Angela Dimitrakaki and Kirsten Lloyd.


Programme Details


Ursula Biemann The Aesthetic and Political Ecologies of Deep Weather


Abstract Included in ECONOMY, The video essay Deep Weather alludes to the planetary economy in which fossil fuel extractions made in the boreal woods of Northern Canada are paid for by Delta inhabitants in Bangladesh. The artist addresses possible aesthetic strategies that can help us consider spatial and temporal dimensions on a planetary scale.


Biography Ursula Biemann is an artist, writer, and video essayist based in Zurich. Her practice is strongly research oriented and involves fieldwork and video documentation in remote locations. She investigates global relations under the impact of the accelerated mobility of people, resources and information. Major art projects on oil and water include Black Sea Files (2005) and Egyptian Chemistry (2012). Biemann is a senior researcher at the Zurich University for the Arts and editor of several books. She is appointed Doctor honoris causa in Humanities by the Swedish University Umea (2008) and received the 2009 Prix Meret Oppenheim, the Swiss art award.


Andrew Cumbers Energy, Ownership and Alternatives: The Democratic Economy in the Twenty-First Century


Abstract How can the concepts of energy and ownership become relevant to imagining a coming economy? The talk will address the parameters of what might be called ‘democratic economy’ in a century that opened with a world-wide crisis linking democracy and economy.


Biography Andrew Cumbers is Professor of Geographical Political Economy at the University of Glasgow with research interests in globalisation, the problems of uneven development and thinking about democratic alternatives. He is also the Managing Editor of the journal Urban Studies. Recent books have included Global Justice Networks: Geographies of Transnational Solidarity (with Paul Routledge) and Reclaiming Public Ownership: Making Space for Economic Democracy (published in 2012 by Zed books).


Owen Logan The ‘Industrialisation of the Mind’ and the Representation of Resource-Related Conflict


Abstract Drawing on his extensive experience on art making and activism, Owen Logan will discuss perspectives on resource related conflict from governments, academics, civil society agencies, journalists and artists.


Biography Owen Logan is a photographer and a research fellow in the field of socio-economics at the University of Aberdeen, where he worked closely with the ‘Lives in the Oil Industry’ oral history project. He is co-editor of Flammable Societies: Studies on the Socio-economics of Oil & Gas (Pluto Press 2012). Logan is also a contributing editor to Variant magazine, which covers ‘cross-currents in culture’. His work as a photographer has been widely exhibited and his images are in several public collections, including the Scottish Parliament. Some of his photographic projects are examined in scholarly publications, including Raw Histories: Photographs, Anthropology and Museums by Elizabeth Edwards (Berg, 2001), Scottish Photography: A History by Tom Normand (Luath, 2008) and Living in a Globalised World (Open University, 2006).