Exhibition

04 September–29 November 2015

Forest Law

Considering nature as a rights-bearing subject, Forest Law (2014)—a collaborative video-installation by artist-researcher Ursula Biemann and architect Paulo Tavares—brings us to Ecuador where, not without challenges of its own, this radically altered relationship to the earth and the natural world has become possible.

Laying out the complex spatial and human-Earth relations—between trans-national industry, migration, and indigenous ecologies—Tavares and Biemann bring to light the work of indigenous lawyers and experts, whose work in amending the constitution of the State of Ecuador (in effect since 2008) established fundamental rights to natural eco-systems. Fragile, complex, and contested as this status might be, nature has become a subject of the national legal code, and the governments and corporations violently abusing and misappropriating it are, in Ecuador at least, held to account.

Forest Law is guided by Biemann and Tavares’ research into a series of landmark legal trials in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where claims were made for the rights of nature in the face of human destruction occurring along the oil and mining frontiers in the (living) rainforests of the country. Though this mineral-rich and biodiverse Amazonian area is considered the sovereign land of indigenous nations, it has been under continuous pressure from a variety of national and internationally predatory actors (such as the oil giants Chevron/Texaco and CGC) eager to further exploit natural resources from a forest floor they have already left toxic and ridden with waste. Through a re-telling of these cases Forest Law brings together the globally entangled concerns of environmentalism and of post-colony, of social justice and climate, and of the human and the posthuman.

Much like that which becomes acutely palpable in other works by Biemann, Subatlantic (2015) and Deep Weather (2013) also presented in the exhibition, Forest Law underlines the persistent fact that we are yet to learn to live otherwise in an age defined by the colossal consequences of a new socio-geological order we ourselves have created through irresponsible interactions with Earth’s systems. If the research and narratives in this exhibition articulate how global history entwines with nature, and how global nature entwines with histories all too located and consistent with globalization’s pattern of exploitation and marginalization: it also coalesces with past and future stories of resistance, and urges us to rethink, as one, the way of our being in the world and of being with the planet: something perhaps to become a key political project for our time.

Ursula Biemann is an artist, researcher, and video essayist based in Zurich. Biemann’s work is invested in exploring the uneven resource distribution, climate change, and ecologies of oil and water as principles of planetary organization of power.

Paulo Tavares is an architect and urbanist whose work deals with the visual and spatial politics of territorial conflicts and climate change in the Amazon and other frontiers across the third world. Tavares is based in Quito.

Made possible by

The activities of BAK, basis voor actuele kunst have been made possible by financial support from the City Council of Utrecht and the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science of the Netherlands. The project Future Vocabularies is realized with generous support from the DOEN Foundation, Amsterdam.

The exhibition Forest Law is made possible with support of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

Program

Lecture
23.11.2015 19.00 hrs
Over the Ruins of Amazonia: Colonial Violence and De-colonial Resistance at the Frontiers of Climate Change

Made possible by

Suggestions from the archive

Discursive

24 January 2019

Propositions #7/6: Archive

Sixth gathering of Propositions #7: Evidentiary Methods—the public program in the context of the exhibition Forensic Justice and part of the BAK series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–2020). Focusing on the evidentiary method of archiving, Ariel Caine presents Ground Truth, 2017–ongoing, a project that provides historical and juridical evidence on behalf of communities in the illegalized Palestinian Bedouin villages in the northern threshold of the Negev/Naqab desert. Jessica de Abreu presents The Black Archives’ work documenting the history of black emancipation movements and individuals in the Netherlands. Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh discusses her research and interventions which address the political implications of a collection of digital photography originating from Burj al-Shamali, a Palestinian refugee camp in Southern Lebanon.

Discursive

10 January 2019

Propositions #7/5: Sense

Fifth gathering of Propositions #7: Evidentiary Methods—the public program in the context of the exhibition Forensic Justice and part of the BAK series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–2020). Focusing on the evidentiary method of remote sensing, Samaneh Moafi presents Ecocide in Indonesia, 2016, an investigation into the 2015 fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra that consumed over 21,000 square kilometers of forest and peat lands. A staff member of Prakken d’Oliveira presents Friends of the Earth Netherlands vs. Royal Dutch Shell, 2008–ongoing, a legal case in which four Nigerian citizens are taking Shell to court over oil spills that had polluted their fields and their fish farming ponds.

Discursive

15 November 2018

Propositions #7/3: Testify

Third gathering of Propositions #7: Evidentiary Methods—the public program in the context of the exhibition Forensic Justice and part of the BAK series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–2020). Focusing on the evidentiary method of the testimony, Ana Naomi de Sousa presents Saydnaya, 2016, the reconstruction of a Syrian torture prison of which there are no images. Papa Sakho and Jo van der Spek bring into the discussion the Migrant 2 Migrant Foundation’s ongoing response to the Schipholbrand, the 2005 fire in which eleven migrants died while being trapped in an airport detention complex.

Discursive

1 November 2018, 19.30-21.30

Propositions #7/2: Geosync

Second gathering of Propositions #7: Evidentiary Methods—the public program in the context of the exhibition Forensic Justice and part of the BAK series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–2020). Focusing on the evidentiary method of what Forensic Architecture calls “Geosync,” Stefan Laxness presents The Ayotzinapa Case, 2017, an investigation into the disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Mexico, in 2014. Gamze Hızlı and Özlem Zingil of Hafiza Merkezi discuss their recent investigations into human rights violations in Turkey.

Discursive

Discursive

Education Program

03 December 2018–21 January 2019

Course Art and Politics

“Art and Politics” is an inaugural course of a new public school for art and politics organized by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst in Utrecht. In six weekly sessions, the participants learn about how contemporary art relates to the political in an accessible way. The course is taught by Maria Hlavajova, BAK’s general and artistic director.

Exhibition

8-11 November 2018

BAK x Le Guess Who? – Forensic Justice

During the music festival Le Guess Who?, from 8–11 November 2018, festival visitors have free entrance to the exhibition Forensic Justice, with works by Forensic Architecture. This collaboration is part of a new satellite event during Le Guess Who? 2018: ‘Untitled’. The program focuses on all disciplines other than music and is an exploration of other artistic expressions by festival artists, as well as a collection of exhibitions, film screenings and talks that can be visited in Utrecht during the festival weekend.

Exhibition

Discursive

18 October 2018–24 January 2019

Propositions #7: Evidentiary Methods

Propositions #7: Evidentiary Methods—the public program in the context of the exhibition Forensic Justice and part of the BAK series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living (2017–2020)—expands upon the notion of forensic justice in a series of lectures, screenings, and workshops on methodologies for articulating claims within the multidimensional space of aesthetics, law, architecture, politics, and ecology.

Exhibition

18 October 2018–27 January 2019

Forensic Justice

Forensic Justice is an exhibition and a series of public programs with Forensic Architecture, a London-based independent and interdisciplinary research agency comprised of, among others, artists, scientists, lawyers, filmmakers, and architects.

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Lecture

Exhibition

Lecture