Winds of the Anthropocene

Films by Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Kyriaki Goni, Arjuna Neuman & Denise Ferreira da Silva, Sybille Neumeyer, Mimi Onuoha
curated by Johanna Hardt 
at Heidelberger Kunstverein
02.09. - 05.11.2023

(c) Arjuna Neuman & Denise Ferreira da Silva
(c) Sybille Neumeyer
(c) Heather Dewey-Hagborg
(c) Kyriaki Goni
(c) Mimi Onuoha

Press ReleaseAbout the artists
The show presents five artistic films that explore alternative ways of relating to the earth. The positions deal with biological and technological systems and explore the connection between human and non-human history. 

With ‘Winds of the Anthropocene’ [1], the Heidelberger Kunstverein presents five artistic films that explore alternative ways of relating to the earth. The positions deal with biological and technological systems and explore the connection between human and non-human history. The works argue for a relationship to the planet that is not shaped by anthropocentrism. They will be presented in a specific order in a loop in the studio of the Kunstverein.

The Anthropocene is our present. Our species has become the dominant geological force, and climate change the unintended consequence. Despite critiques of the deceptive universality implied by the prefix ‘anthropos’ (ancient Greek for ‘human’), it remains the most popular label for our geological age. The selected films trace this problematic legacy of modernity and refer not only to the ecological but also to the social and cultural impacts associated with human activity.

The films deal with seemingly new technologies but also with the past–with remnants of the natural world, ecosystems, and indigenous cultures destroyed by human activity. They challenge the modern mind, which takes the world for granted, forcing it to learn from what it considers obsolete. They call for thinking in larger temporal dimensions defining humans as a ‘minority form of life’ [2] among a majority of other life forms.

Sybille Neumeyer’s ‘Souvenirs entomologiques #1: odonata / weathering data’ (2020) explores the entanglements of humans, weather, and insects in a data-driven world. It follows dragonflies from their geological past into uncertain futures, from their ecosystems to museum collections, and from the transformation of weather worlds into data clouds, all while multiple insect identities are mediated, shaped, and reshaped by modes of mapping, monitoring, and collecting.

A plant speaks to us in Kyriaki Goni’s CGI video: ‘The mountain-islands shall mourn us eternally (Data Garden Dolomites)’ (2022). Data gardens, we learn, are networks of plants that store and circulate digital information all over the planet. Using this hypothetical scenario and appropriating elements from recent scientific research on the data storage capacity of the genetic material of living organisms, the work explores DNA as a technical medium.

The protagonists in Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s film ‘Hybrid: an Interspecies Opera’ (2022) are real humanoid pigs genetically modified to be suitable as heart donors for transplants. It questions whether CRISPR gene editing represents a radical break with or a continuation of the millennia-old practice of selective breeding.

In ‘These Networks In Our Skin’ (2021) by Mimi Ọnụọha four women are rewiring internet cables, filling them with hair and spices–materials associated with ritual and community. They insert themselves into the tech infrastructure and make us realize how they are replacing other cultural values already imbued there.

‘4 Waters-Deep Implication’ (2018) by Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman retells the Haitian Revolution by linking it to an earthquake in 1784. This earthquake is the catalyst for the revolution–an indigenous prediction of black independence. Through four waters–the Mediterranean, Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans–and the islands Lesvos, Haiti, Marshall Islands, and Tiwi, the film addresses pressing global issues such as the legacies of colonialism and ecological devastation, excavating the link between geological shifts and knowledge production.

Curated by Johanna Hardt


[1] Tsing et al., Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet, 1.
[2] Chakrabarty, The Climate of History in a Planetary Age, 195.

Sybille Neumeyer is an artist and researcher focusing on human-non-human relations and ecology. Her research draws on various fields of knowledge, often in collaboration and exchange with scientists and experts. Through installations, workshops, lectures, and video essays, she explores the intersections of biological and cultural loss of diversity, climate crisis, and more than human health. Exhibitions/projects (selection): Charité Berlin (DE); Art Laboratory Berlin (DE); Onassis Stegi, Athens (GR); Kunsthaus Dresden (DE); EXiS, Seoul (KR), ZKM Karlsruhe (DE); Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin (DE).

Kyriaki Goni explores technology's political, affective, and ecological aspects. Her work focuses on extractivism, surveillance, human and non-human relations, distributed networks, and infrastructures. Exhibitions (selection): The Breeder, Athen (GR); Drugo More, Rijeka (HR); SixtyEight Art Institute, Copenhagen (DK); Kunstverein Ost, Berlin (DE); Onassis Stegi, Athens (GR); Museum für zeitgenössische Kunst, Ljubljana (SI); Kunsthalle Mannheim (DE); Microwave International New Media Arts Festival, Hongkong (HK); 2. Warschau Biennale (PL); 13. Shanghai Biennale (CN); Ars Electronica, Linz (AT); Kunsthalle Tallinn (EE); transmediale, Berlin (DE).

Heather Dewey-Hagborg is an artist and biohacker interested in art as research and technological critique. Her controversial biopolitical art practice includes the project Stranger Visions, in which she created portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material collected in public places. Exhibitions (selection): World Economic Forum, Davos (CH); Daejeon Biennale (KR); Guangzhou Triennial (CN); Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (CN); transmediale, Berlin (DE); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (US); Philadelphia Museum of Art (US); PS1 MoMA, New York (US). Collections: Centre Pompidou, Paris (FR); Victoria and Albert Museum, London (UK); SFMoMA, San Francisco (US).

Nigerian-American artist Mimi Ọnụọha's work questions and exposes the contradictory logics of technological progress. Through print, code, data, video, installation, and archival media, Ọnụọha offers new orientations for making sense of the absences that define labor, ecology, and relations systems. Exhibitions (selection): bitforms gallery, New York (US); Forest City Gallery, London (UK); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (US); Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (AU); Mao Jihong Arts Foundation, Shanghai (CN); La Gaîté Lyrique, Paris (FR); transmediale, Berlin (DE); The Photographers Gallery, London (UK); NEON, Athens (GR).

Arjuna Neuman is an artist, filmmaker, and writer who uses the essay as a futuristic and experimental mode guiding his research and production. Denise Ferreira da Silva is an artist and philosopher concerned with the ethico-political challenges of the global present. Neuman and Ferreira da Silva's artistic collaboration stems from their shared research and perspective on the world as a landscape where humans and environmental elements, such as geology, bacteria, and weather, are interconnected. Exhibitions/Screenings: Centre Pompidou, Paris (FR); Whitechapel Gallery, London (UK); 56. Biennale Venedig (IT); Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (DE); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (UK); Julia Stoschek Foundation, Berlin (DE); Museum Arnhem (NL); Berlinale Forum Expanded (DE). Collection: Belkin, Vancouver (CA).