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Rodrigo Braga,Tone (Tônus), 2010, courtesy the artist 

A Return to Pre-Modernity

Artists: Yto Barrada, Rodrigo Braga and Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla

Curated by Victor Wang
Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.
13 Aug 2014

A Return to Pre-Modernity is a program and lecture series aims to explore the relationship between post-colonial globalization and the current global ecological crisis through the medium of film.

The programme features work by artists 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 term Anthropocene, which was first proposed in the year 2000 by ecologist Eugene F. Stoermer and atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen, has become widely accepted as a designation for the current epoch in which human activity has greatly impacted various geologically significant systems. Examples of these changes include alterations in erosion and sediment transport patterns, the melting of the polar ice caps, shifts in agricultural practices, urbanization, and climate change.

The Anthropocene serves as a framework for examining the historical human condition, potentially indicating a shared global legacy. The program will investigate the multifaceted nature of the current ecological crisis, which encompasses the convergence of various histories, including earth systems, biological evolution and human development, industrial capitalism, and the acknowledgement of alternative forms of knowledge.

In addressing these histories, "A Return to Pre-Modernity" will consider the impact of migration and diaspora in relation to climate change and industrial development. 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, will be examined. This region is being observed through the prehistoric gaze of several local tortoises as the relationship between nature and society is explored. Additionally, Rodrigo Braga's "Tonus" (2010), filmed on the north-east coast of Brazil, will be analyzed as it depicts Braga's bodily struggle with the natural world. Yto Barrada's "Beau Geste" (2009) will also be examined as it depicts a different type of resistance 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 program 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.


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