Postcolonial Ecologies in Art and Curating | seminar | Aberdeen (2019)

Postcolonial Ecologies in Art and Curating
Screening of Wild Relatives by Jumana Manna
Seminar and Workshop for Curators
Peacock Visual Arts & SCAN / Aberdeen / 4-5 October 2019

“[…]there is a pressing need for the recovery of the land that, because of the presence of the colonizing outsider, is recoverable at first only through the imagination. Now if there is anything that radically distinguishes the imagination of anti-imperialism it is the primacy of the geographical in it. Imperialism, after all, is an act of geographical violence through which virtually every space in the world is explored, charted, and finally brought under control.” (Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism)

This workshop considers recent art practices concerned with postcolonial ecologies, and their relationship to curatorial practice. By focusing on concrete examples from the art scene we will reflect on the place of art in the contemporary crisis, consider how we engage with issues of change, and finally how art can contribute to a better understanding of vital issues in society.

Through analysis of various visual, performative and textual sources (literature, poetry, non-fiction, pop-culture, academic etc.), the workshop will also pay attention to how certain narratives are constructed. What is the place and the role of imagination and emotions in an everyday life which mixes freely reality with fake news? The aim of this constructed discussion is to show how disparate areas of power, exclusions and marginalization are related to one another. Amongst other issues the workshop will touch on the current state of journalism, censorship, racism and rhetoric.

Jumana Manna’s film Wild Relatives (2018) to screen at Peacock. Wild Relatives explores the recreation of a seed bank from Aleppo, Syria to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon due to the Syrian Revolution turned war. Having left behind its seed bank, the research centre began a laborious process of planting their seed collection from back-ups stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Following the path of this transaction of seeds between the Arctic and Lebanon, _Wild Relatives_ captures the articulation between this large-scale international initiative and its local implementation in the Bekaa Valley, carried out primarily by young migrant women. The meditative pace of the scenes are a succession of processes, partially-scripted dialogues, and observations that tease out tensions between state and individual, industrial and organic approaches to seed saving, climate change and biodiversity.