Ursula Biemann

Biemann U. (2003) Geography and the Politics of Mobility. Available at: http://www.geobodies.org/books-and-texts/geography-and-the-politics-of-mobility/ (Accessed: 27/10/15)

“One of the recurring questions will be how the human trajectories and the traffic of signs and visual information form particular cultural and social landscapes and inscribe themselves materially in the terrain”

“Geography as a discipline of geophysics is not what interests us here, but the postmodern understanding of geography as a distinct mode of producing and organizing knowledge regarding the way natural, social and cultural conditions relate to one another.”

boundaries, connectivity, and transgression.

The exhibition space may be looked at as one such transient location whose meaning is generated through the passage of people and the appearance of temporary projects, which may inscribe themselves, over time, in form of a program, into the space. None of the works represent closed positions, they rather open up the networks within which they have been generated and of which they are an operative part. Each one of the projects gives insight into a system, which is as much a system of navigation than a system of representation. —hmm interesting, the space of the gallery….meaning maker…?

a visual language, which can speak of a hyper-mobile, capitalized, gendered body needs to be invented.

Electronic landscapes have increasingly become the surface for action. Besides grasping the material topographies of the earth, satellite images also record the invisible elements of atmospheric, underwater and subterranean formations, as implemented recently in the military reconnaissance of the cave network of Al Quaida Representing a traversable space, satellite images are no longer the map of a static moment in time but a dynamic geography of moving and changing surfaces over which a steady flow of signals and data is recording human migration, refugee movements and border crossings

Even the most technologically produced images will be filtered, at the moment of interpretation, by human fantasies, desires and projections

cyberfeminist web project womanspacework


Remote sensing – Ursula biemann film

If the academic discipline of geography as been unable to represent the major changes that have occurred in the post-colonial, post-migratory and post-communist world, can art rewrite geography’s relations with place and mobility? This is one of the questions asked by Irit Rogoff in her enlightening book Terra Infirma, which has been a steady companion in the development of this project

The main purpose of the exhibition, then, is not to show final artworks but to give insight into a networked art and intellectual community who shares a common concern with the European politics of border closure, with the new forms of consolidation of power and the gendered shifts in the global labor.

Irit rogoff…that terror and its forms of representation is a highly gendered matter where concepts of femininity and terrorism have to be resignified.


  • creating a countergeography that looks at the modes of resistence against borders and boundaries, image regimes enforced by Europe. Looks at organisation and figures that play roles in the system of migration.
  • ‘anti-spectacular’ multiple perspectives
  • complexity of installation, multi screen – visitor builds own journey
  • ‘spatial experience’ that mirrors migration
  • running text – network technology – sahara migration system is also a network
  • ariel photographs, mobile architectures, found skeletons of boats 200 miles into the desert!


Geography and the politics of mobility:

  • “These sites and non-sites speak of a rearticulation of the relations between social and territorial conditions.” UB
  • MAPPING – both of the landscape and of social relations “forms of collaboration and temporary alliance.”
  • “traces the navigation of people though material as well as electronic terrain”
  • “electronic landscape” – electronic communications network as well as satellite landscapes/geo info systems


Port City book – Dispersing the viewpoint Ursula Biemann

  • Zygmunt Bauman – Space Wars – mobility would not be a privilege and a formidable power resource, were it not complemented by the territorial fixity of the powerless.
  • Mobility as a prime resource
  • Comparison of the desert to ocean “Both seas, water and sand, are excruciating to cross, and merciless.” UB
  • “Sahara Chronicle has no intention to construct a homogenous, overarching, contemporary narrative…”
  • videos are data, no narrative, no voice over or authoritative voice – mirrors the migratory networks in it’s exhibition form that strings together films and text and images
  • “Invisibility is an invaluable resource in the undercover transportation racket” – idea of invisibleness, not seeing, surveillance – link to idea of panoptic vision?
  • “Indeed many migrants break entirely from older notions of place, coming to embody the kind of boundlessness….that needs to be concealed and rigorously disavowed because it has created a disorder in global civil society by pushing an immense liminal zone into a neatly mapped post-colonial order…”
  • on the media: only ever captures failed journeys, interceptions –“ …a permanent still of the raft of the medusa”
  • “In cinematographic language this fixed spatial determination is simply called a ‘a shot’, suggesting that the real is no longer represented but targeted.”
  • On tv: “…this particular shot becomes the symbol that encapsulates the meaning of the entire drama.”
  • Idea of sustainability – migration in Sahel is in many cases linked to not being able to sustain a living there because of desertification. This is then linked to the sustainability of images: “As social relations, representations constitute meaning in one place that is locked into signification in relation to another.”
  • I think the use of the surveillance imagery says as much about the viewer as it does about the subject – the development of this expensive technology that is used to exert power and control – the aerial viewpoint, godlike, dominant.
  • The dominance of certain images and voices stops others’ from being seen/heard – a form of monoculture “…sustainable representation would always favour heterogeneity and plurality over monoculture.” (here’s a link to my interest in plants and landscape, biodiversity etc – think about the garden in motion)

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