Location: HE.RO Art Gallery (Amsterdam)
A Tale of a Tub and HE.RO present an afternoon of screenings, talks and a panel discussion on Saturday 24 November during Amsterdam Art Weekend, from 13h to 18h. ‘Art, Ethics, Schizophrenia & the Marine Environment’ is organized in the context of Shezad Dawood’s ambitious project Leviathan, a ten-part film cycle conceived and directed by the artist, that was inaugurated in Venice in 2017 to coincide with the 57th Art Biennale.
In dialogue with a wide range of marine biologists, oceanographers, political scientists, neurologists and trauma specialists, the Leviathan Cycle explores notions of marine welfare, migration and mental health and their possible interconnections. Leviathan is set in an imaginary future whose inhabitants are the survivors of a cataclysmic solar event. Each of the ten episodes is told from the point of view of a different character and follows them as they drift across Europe, Asia and North Africa, encountering a series of idiosyncratic communities.
Leviathan explores where we could be if a deeper understanding of trauma and climate erosion is not found, leaving us to deal with not only a humanitarian crisis, but a wider crisis affecting our entire biosphere. How do we respond to the key challenges that face us?
Whereas the first three episodes of Leviathan were premiered in Venice last year, episodes 4 and 5 premiere in Amsterdam (at HE.RO) and Rotterdam (at A Tale of a Tub) respectively, during Amsterdam Art Weekend 2018.
13.00 | Welcome by Maurits Hertzberger, Gabriel Rolt (HE.RO Gallery) and Suzanne Wallinga (A Tale of a Tub)
13:05-13:50 | Keynote Amira Gad (Curator of Art and Architecture at the Serpentine Galleries in London): “How does it end when you start at the end?”
Amira Gad is Curator of Art and Architecture at the Serpentine Galleries in London, where she has curated exhibitions of works (and edited accompanying publications) by Hito Steyerl (forthcoming, 2019), Sondra Perry (2018), Torbjørn Rødland (2017), Arthur Jafa (2017), John Latham (2017), Zaha Hadid (2016), Helen Marten (2016), Simon Denny (2015), Jimmie Durham (2015), and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s show (2015), that received the Sky Arts Award for visual arts, Julio Le Parc (2014) and Reiner Ruthenbeck (2014). As well as the public commission by Lee Ufan installed in Kensington Gardens in 2018. Together with Hans Ulrich Obrist, she co-curated the group exhibition Hack Space that was presented, in 2016, at the K11 Art Foundation’s pop-up space in Hong Kong and the chi K11 art museum in Shanghai. Gad also worked on Serpentine’s 2016 architecture programme that included architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Asif Khan, Kunlé Adeyemi (NLE), Yona Friedman, and Barkow Leibinger. In 2018, Gad was part of a panel of 10 women that selected artists shown at the London Frieze Art Fair’s special section ‘Social Work’ dedicated to women whose work emerged in response to the global social and political schisms of the 1980s and ’90s. This year, she was also nominated as a woman leader of the art world by The Sunday Times.
Prior to this, Gad was Managing Curator & Publications at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam where she worked from 2009 to 2014 and where she curated exhibitions and public programmes including the show The Temptation of AA Bronson (2014) that received the AICA Best Exhibition of the Year Award. Outside of the Serpentine Galleries, curated exhibitions include Subversive Forms of Social Sculpture with artists Abdulnasser Gharem and Heimo Zhobernig at the Sharjah Art Museum (2018); Considering Dynamics and the Forms of Chaos with artists Angela Bulloch and Maria Zerres at the Sharjah Art Museum (2016); Blue Times at Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, Austria (2014-2015). She was also curator at Fogo Island Arts of the conference series that took place on Fogo and in Vienna at the MAK. She is a regular contributor to artists catalogues and has edited a number of books on contemporary art including the title Character is Fate: Mondrian’s Horoscopes that received the Dutch Best Book Design Award. Gad is also Commissioning Editor for Ibraaz (ibraaz.org), an online platform dedicated to visual culture in the Middle East and North Africa.
13:50-14:02 | Screening Leviathan Episode 1: Ben (12’)
This film, narrated by a character called Ben, starts with the words ‘The world was ending as it had been doing for millennia’. It is a visual feast of found footage, carefully edited with new film and a powerful soundtrack. Ben recalls childhood memories of visiting his marine biologist father’s place of work, The Natural History Museum in London. These memories are intertwined with the back-story of a global disaster, which sets the narrative of the Leviathan Cycle.
14:02-14:15 | Break
14:15-14:45 | Dr. Martin Ziegler (University of Utrecht): “Climate change – clues from a distant past”
Dr. Martin Ziegler is a geologist with a major interest in the cause and impact of climate variability on a range of geologic timescales. The primary focus of his research is the reconstruction of past climate variability using in particular the carbonate clumped isotope thermometer. He studied Geology and Palaeontology at the Universities of Stuttgart and Kiel in Germany and the University College London in the UK. Between 2005 and 2009 he worked as PhD student at the University of Utrecht on the subject of orbitally driven changes in monsoonal climates. After completion of his PhD he moved as postdoctoral researcher to the Columbia University in New York, then Cardiff University in Wales and later on to the ETH Zürich in Switzerland. In 2015 he returned to the University of Utrecht and got a faculty position as Assistant Professor. He received several research grants from NWO and the European Union, including a prestigious NWO Vidi grant in 2016 and co-authored more than 30 articles in international scientific journals. In 2018 he was one of the participations of the NICO-expedition (Netherlands Initiative Changing Oceans).
14:45-15:10 | Screening Leviathan Episode 2: Yasmine (25’)
In the second episode of the cycle we meet Yasmine, as the film follows the inner monologue of its central character: a young woman of Moroccan–French descent who is living alone within a deserted structure in Plymouth on the south coast of England, with all its associations with the Mayflower and the colonial navy. Part way through, her stream-of-consciousness is interrupted by the invasion of her private space by a young man. Is this the same young man, Ben, who narrates Episode 1?
15:10-15:40 | dr. Jeff M. Diamanti (Lecturer Literary and Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam): “Heliotropism at the Terminal Beach of Critique”
Recent aesthetic interventions by Shezad Dawood, Chris McCaw, and Olafur Eliasson help focalize the present through the figure of the beach—that originary landscape where sea and land mix matter, distributing solar and lunar energies in turn. These medium-specific heliotropisms, as I refer to them, offer unique and plural forms of critical perception that help accelerate the process of letting climate change theory, each using distinct mood, materiality, and temporality. If it was on a sunny day at the beach that critical theory (as it was enumerated by Horkheimer and Adorno) witnessed the absorption of the subject into the logic of capital, then it is to the terminal beach of critique that we return today now that this same subject appears to be under erasure. In my reading, the return to the beach is not an effort to save that subject, but to re-attune to an aesthetic apparatus of perception necessary for its redefinition.
Jeff Diamanti teaches Literary and Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. In 2016-17 he was the Media@McGill Postdoctoral Fellow in Media and the Environment where he co-convened the international colloquium on Climate Realism. His work tracks the relationship between fossil fuels and media and has appeared in the journals Radical Philosophy, Postmodern Culture, Mediations, Western American Literature, and Reviews in Cultural Theory, as well as the books Fueling Culture (Fordham UP) and A Companion to Critical and Cultural Studies (Wiley-Blackwell).
Diamanti has edited a number of book and journal collections including Contemporary Marxist Theory (Bloomsbury 2014), Materialism and the Critique of Energy (MCM’ Press 2018), and the forthcoming Energy Culture (West Virginia University Press 2019) and Bloomsbury Companion to Marx (2018), as well as a special issue of Reviews in Cultural Theory on “Energy Humanities” and a double issue of Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities on “Climate Realism.” He is working on a book called Terminal Landscapes: Media Ecologies of Postindustrial Energy Cultures.
15:40-15:54 Screening Leviathan Episode 3: Arturo (14’)
In the third episode, we hear from Arturo, leader of a religious community on an island in the lagoon of Venice. This community has fallen into depravity and madness, and worship the worm as the symbol of endings. Into their midst come Ben & Yasmine…
15:54-16:10 | Break
16:10-17:00 | Panel discussion moderated by Shezad Dawood
17:00 | Trailer Episode 5 (on view till 27 January 2019 at A Tale of a Tub)
Leviathan Episode 5: Ismael looks at issues around cargo ships, international waters and free trade zones, and how maritime law creates a whole separate legal infrastructure. These human aspects of international trade, and globalization are paralleled with the migrations made by marine fauna, to look at ideas of frictionless trade, in relation to how the concept of ‘conservation’ might be applied to humans as much as to animals.
Do come and join us on November 24. Art can’t change the world, but art can activate conversation and, perhaps, find new ways to think.