ephemeropteræ 2017/#6 – Ellie Ga | Astrida Neimanis | Ursula Biemann

Astrida Neimanis. Photo: eSeL.at - Joanna Pianka
Ursula Biemann. Photo: eSeL.at - Joanna Pianka
Ellie Ga. Photo: eSeL.at - Joanna Pianka

In her performative lecture How to Become a Body of Water (Lessons in Hydrofeminism) 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? “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.” 

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 (2015) 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.


Astrida Neimanis is a writer, teacher, and collaborator. She is currently a Lecturer in Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her work is primarily interested in water as a site of damage, desire, fear and fecundity; as an idea and imaginary, but also as environment and embodied place. Her preferred tactic is bringing feminist and queer theories to explore (and explode) environmental questions. Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology (2017) is her most recent book. She is also co-editor of Thinking with Water (2013) and has written extensively for scholarly journals, books, art publications and projects, and public events. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for Environmental Humanities and is a Scientific Director with The Seed Box (Sweden). She was born and raised in the Great Lakes-St Lawrence watershed (Canada/Turtle Island), but has also lived and worked in and around the Bay of Riga and the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the River Thames, and now the great big Pacific. Other projects include Hacking the Anthropocene! and COMPOSTING feminisms and the environmental humanities. She also thinks a lot about the weather.

Ellie Ga's projects often develop in collaboration with scientific and historical institutions such as The Explorers Club (New York), Tara Arctic Expeditions (France/Arctic Ocean) and The Center for Maritime Archeology, Alexandria (Egypt). Her recent solo exhibitions were presented at Le Grand Café, Saint-Nazaire (FR) and M-Museum, Leuven (BE). Ga's performances have been showcased at The Guggenheim Museum; The Kitchen (New York) and The Cartier Foundation (Paris). She is a co-founder of Ugly Duckling Presse in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently a recipient of a Swedish Research Council fellowship.  Upcoming publications include Dialogue (with Marcelline Delbecq, Shelter Press), Square Octagon Circle (Siglio Press) and her later work will be shown at Bureau, New York in September 2017. She lives in Stockholm, Sweden.

Ursula Biemann is an artist, author, and video essayist based in Zurich. Her artistic practice is strongly research oriented and involves fieldwork in remote locations where she investigates resource ecologies and climate change. Her video installations are exhibited worldwide in museums and at international art biennials in Liverpool, Shanghai, Sevilla, Istanbul, Montreal, Venice, and Sao Paulo. Publisher of several books, she is the co-founder of the international art and research platform World of Matter. Biemann studied at the School of Visual Arts and the Whitney ISP in New York. She received the Meret Oppenheim Swiss Grand Award for Art and an honorary degree of humanities from the Swedish University Umea. 
July 7, 2017 at 7 pm
TBA21–Augarten, Scherzergasse 1A, 1020 Vienna
free admission
supported by
Wiener Städtische Versicherungsverein