Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary presents the sixth edition of EPHEMEROPTERÆ, its annual spoken-word performance series. Taking place from June to September 2017 at TBA21–Augarten, it comprises 11 evenings with invited scientists, artists, musicians, curators, authors, and thinkers.
“How to Become a Body of Water (Lessons in Hydrofeminism)”: Blood, bile, intracellular fluid; a small ocean swallowed, a wild wetland in our gut; rivulets forsaken, making their way from our insides out, from watery womb to watery world: we are bodies of water. As such, we are not on the one hand “embodied” (as a cultural or philosophical concept) and on the other hand “made mostly of water” (as a biological fact). We are both, inextricably and at once—composed of wet matter, yet also aswim in the discursive flocculations of embodiment as an idea, a politics, an ethics. We live at the site of exponential material meaning where embodiment meets water. Given the various water crises that our planet currently faces, from drought and freshwater shortage to wild weather, floods, and chronic contamination, this meaningful mattering of our bodies is also an urgent question of worldly survival. In this performative lecture Astrida Neimanis asks what it takes to live our bodies as bodies of water. Flowing from the philosophy of Luce Irigaray to the artwork of Rebecca Belmore, from lungfish to aquatic apes, from queer gestation to travelling breast milk, she also asks: How, and why, is this a feminist question?
Ellie Ga’s work is inspired by the indeterminacy of exploration and the human desire to contact and chart the unknown. She uses a range of media to build her layered narratives. Over the past two years, she has been developing a history of messages in bottles: their use in oceanography, folklore, and literature. “The message in a bottle” is used as a portal into the circumstances that contribute to drift and how a person interprets what they find on the shoreline. Objects drift and human stories drift. Ga explores how flotsam on the shore engages one’s own humanity and becomes a vehicle for action.
Ursula Biemann’s “Subatlantic” is based on comprehensive research and engages with the far-reaching territorial and climatic transformations due to the extraction of resources, drawing attention to the social and biological micro-dynamics at work in these massive physical encroachments. Her recent fieldwork has taken her to the Arctic region. Engaging with the political ecology of oil, ice, and water, the artist interweaves vast cinematic landscapes with documentary footage, science fiction poetry, and academic findings to narrate a changing planetary reality. This world-making, “geomorphic” practice is no longer concerned with the distinction between images and the supposedly “real thing” represented. Instead, it explores how moving images form and change the way we grasp and attend to the world. Discussing her artistic practice in her recent video Subatlantic, Biemann raises questions regarding the entanglement of aesthetics, ecology, and speculative thought.