A Return to Pre-Modernity
Artists: Yto Barrada, Rodrigo Braga and Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla
13 Aug 2014
Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.
Curated by Victor Wang
A Return to Pre-Modernity is a film programme and lecture that seeks to investigate the engagement between post-colonial globalization and the current worldwide ecological crisis.
The programme features work by Yto Barrada, Rodrigo Braga and Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, and is followed by a keynote response by Dr Wallace Heim, author and researcher in performance and ecology. The Anthropocene, a term suggested in 2000 by the ecologist Eugene F. Stoermer and the atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen, has become commonly used to refer to the contemporary epoch in which geologically significant systems have been drastically altered by human activities. These include changes in erosion and sediment transport, the melting of the polar ice caps, shifts in agricultural methods, urbanisation and climate change.
Taking the Anthropocene as a rubric to consider the historical human condition, one that potentially signifies a common global heritage, the programme will further investigate the ways in which the current ecological crisis is a multifaceted rupture that contains a convergence of several histories: of earth systems, of life and human development and of industrial capitalism, and of the recognition of alternative knowledges.
In addressing these histories, A Return to Pre-Modernity will consider migration and diaspora in relation to climate change and industrial development in works such as Amphibious (Login-Logout) (2005) by Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, which takes place on the Pearl River Delta region in the People's Republic of China, where the industrial development of this region is being observed by the prehistoric gaze of several local tortoises. The relationship between nature and society is explored in Rodrigo Braga’s Tonus (2010), filmed on the north-east coast of Brazil: the work depicts Braga’s bodily struggle with the natural world. Yto Barrada’s Beau Geste, (Beautiful Gesture, 2009) depicts a different type of resistance, in this case to modern development in Tangier, Morocco, where the attempt to reclaim a piece of nature quickly becomes an act of local socio-political resistance. The film programme will be concluded by a keynote response by Dr Wallace Heim.
Yto Barrada, Beau Geste (Beautiful Gesture), 2009
Rodrigo Braga Tone (Tônus), 2010
Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, Amphibious (Login-Logout), 2005
Keynote response by Dr Wallace Heim
Dr. Wallace Heim writes and researches on performance and ecology, and she does this in many places. Her academic slant is philosophical, but she works across disciplines to analyse the experience of performance, art and social practice arts, to consider how these events shape ecological and social understanding. Her current work is on conflict; on sense and anonymous species; on how a place can learn; and on emotions. She has published in Performance Research and in Readings in Performance and Ecology. She is on the Advisory Board of the upcoming publication series Performing Landscapes. She co-edited Nature Performed, and co-curated the conference/event BETWEEN NATURE. She taught on the ‘Art & Ecology’ MA at Dartington College of Arts and is an FRSA. She has also worked as a set designer in theatre and television.