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River School Bucharest

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River School Bucharest

Tour of the Văcărești Bucharest Delta
9 May 2014, 2-4 pm

The Văcărești swamp is an abandoned lake site in the south-eastern part of Bucharest, the remains of a hydrological flooding system begun during Ceausescu’s regime, but never finished. Today a small ecosystem of wetlands with more than 90 species of protected birds and mammals exists there, with plans to turn the ‘Bucharest Delta’ into a protected nature park. The guide of the tour will be Gică “the Fisherman”. If you want to take part to the tour write to until the 7th of May.

River School Seminar
9 May 2014, 5-8 pm Bucureşti
Str. Gazelei nr. 44, sector 4, Bucharest

Presentations and a discussion on the planetary dimensions of energy and ecology, with artist Ursula Biemann, social anthropologist Miruna Tîrcă, and curators Maja and Reuben Fowkes, moderated by Raluca Voinea, curator Bucureşti. The River School Seminar is followed by the opening of the exhibition Like a Bird: Avian Ecologies in Contemporary Art.

Ursula Biemann: Carbonecologies
Looking at her video essays Black Sea Files (2005) and Deep Weather (2013), the artist talk addresses crucial questions of resource geographies and the aesthetics of artistic fieldwork. Mineral resources and fossil fuels are the driving force of our consumer society but the rate at which they are extracted raises great concern for the survival of the planet. In Black Sea Files, Biemann follows the construction of a Caspian oil pipeline, recording the transformations triggered by the transnational infrastructure, whereas Deep Weather alludes to the world ecology as an interconnected system in which the effect of heavy fossil fuel extractions made in the boreal woods of Northern Canada are experienced by Delta inhabitants in Bangladesh who struggle to protect themselves from raising sea levels. These videos focus on oil and water as two primordial liquids that form the undercurrents of all narrations as they activate profound changes in the planetary ecology. Considering minute but consistent material transformations a decisive force that drives the reconfiguration of our terrestrial reality, including the political one, these video works place scientific attention, fieldwork and videography as reality-producing practices in this process.

Ursula Biemann is an artist, writer and video essayist. Her artistic practice is strongly research oriented and involves fieldwork in remote locations where she investigates the social ecologies of oil and water. Her video installations have been exhibited at International Art Biennials of Istanbul, Liverpool, Sevilla, Shanghai, Gwangiu, Montreal and in museums worldwide. She is currently working on Forest Law on resource ecology in Amazonia, commissioned by The Broad Art Museum, MSU Michigan. Publisher of several books, she is appointed Doctor honoris causa in Humanities by the Swedish University Umea (2008).

Drs. Maja and Reuben Fowkes are art historians and curators whose interests in the field of art and ecology are manifest in their curated exhibitions, symposia and writings, exploring key ideas and practices around green curating, environmental art history and the sustainability of contemporary art. Their work also focuses on the theory and aesthetics of East European art from the art production of the socialist era to contemporary artistic responses to the transformations brought by globalisation. Current projects include a River School on the Danube on sustainability and contemporary art, a museum show of leading Hungarian artist Csaba Nemes, and a symposium on Art, Ecopower and the Liberation of Energy. They work out of Budapest and London through the Translocal Institute (

Miruna Tîrcă is a social anthropologist, with a degree in Philology, Ethnology, Anthropology and Community development. She is a founding member and President of Komunitas Association, an NGO focused on applied social sciences and urban education, an interdisciplinary approach of making the city more understandable to young people. Miruna has initiated and coordinated one of the first urban education programmes for teenagers in Romania. She has done research and studies in the following fields: disadvantaged communities and neighbourhoods, alternative communities and urban squatting, oral history of 2 Mai, a Romanian seacoast village.

The events are organized in the frame of the programme “/ Natural”, developed by București for the next two years and consisting in a series of workshops, debates, exhibitions, urban gardening, etc., following the current preoccupations for ecology, deconstructing the anthropocentric filter and the myth of unlimited technological progress based on which the concept of the “natural” was built especially in the Western world, as well as the wider implications of its use for the purpose of gender, class and colonial domination.

Thanks to: Eduard Constantin, Livia Pancu/ Iași, Florin Bobu, Simion Constantin, Vlad Basalici, Atelier Brut


The Culture Programme of the European Union