Liliana Gómez (University of Zurich)
August, 29 to September 13, 2019
The transformation of landscapes with its related violent conflicts is remarkably characterized by a historical oblivion that has been contested by aesthetic interventions that brought up and experimented with the motives and media of fluidities. This paper brings together two more recent interventions that reverberate the lived experience of environmental degradation and conflict as des-humanization, loss, and mourning that reflect the complex temporalities and spaces. Specifically, by understanding landscape in its ontological and metaphorical dimension and as archive the paper discusses how critical ecologies address forms of political violence such as forced displacement/disappearance or radical environmental transformation. In particular, it discusses the landscape through plants, bodies of water or the use of fluids as a media-reflexive dimension in contemporary art, looking at two interventions, the video installation Treno, Canto fúnebre (2007) by Colombian artist Clemencia Echeverri and the documentary Wild Relatives by Jumana Manaa (2018). Both problematize the hidden and forgotten history of political violence in the forms of forced displacement/disappearance, war or environmental transformation of the Anthropocene with its manifold forms. Both interventions reveal and make tangible the psychic and material sedimentations of these forms of political violence and economic history investigating their impact on the landscapes of Colombia and Lebanon, respectively.
Echeverri explores the mourning and loss as lived experiences of the Colombian armed conflict. In her video and sound installation, she shows the river Cauca that absorbed the many corpses, while she recreates through the echoing of the water the evanescence of memory. She uses the figure of thought of ‘liquid/liquidity’ as physical and creative movement to unfold ambivalences, contradictions, and the incommensurable of cultural work and the memory of landscape. Manaa renarrates the journey and replantation of seeds, archived at the permafrost store Global Seed Vault in Norway and originated and displaced from Syria due to the war, that traveled back to the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Through multiple loose narrations by migrant workers of this global agricultural project, she delves into the resilience, temporal layers and archives of the landscape. Overall, this paper aims to explore how these contemporary aesthetic interventions echo with the creative human rights that seem to bring both regions into a dialogue.
This Lecture is preceded by an Exhibition opening at 18:00 at the Orient-Institut Beirut .
Exhibition: Contested landscapes, emergent archives
Liliana Gómez (University of Zurich)
in collaboration with Iris Fraueneder (University of Zurich)
The exhibition relates to the archive as a creative force and to emergent material archives as depositories to unfold ambivalences, contradictions, and the incommensurability of cultural work and the memory of landscape. It aims to discuss the long lasting degradation of landscapes contesting the often invisibilized environmental and political violence.
Liliana Gomez is an SNSF-professor (Swiss National Science Foundation) and directs the research project «Contested Amnesia and Dissonant Narratives in the Global South. Post-Conflict in Literature, Art, and Emergent Archives» at the University of Zurich. She received her PhD in Latin American studies at the Freie Universität Berlin and the Habilitation for Ibero-Romance literature and cultural analysis at the University of Zurich. She is also an affiliated researcher at the Orient-Institut Beirut in Lebanon and the co-chair of the Visual Culture Studies Section of the Latin American Studies Association. Her research fields are literary, cultural and media theory, visual cultures and creative human rights, histories of the anthropocene, theories of archive, literature and law. Forthcoming books are: as editor Performing Human Rights. Contested Amnesia and Aesthetic Practices in the Global South. Diaphanes, Zurich (2020); and with Lisa Blackmore (ed.). Liquid Ecologies in Latin American and Caribbean Art. Routledge, New York (2020)."