Taking the botanical world as a stage for politics at large, Uriel Orlow presents a new film, accompanied by two existing works from the artist’s Theatrum Botanicum project.
Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (2017) is an experimental documentary set at the edge of a nature reserve in Johannesburg. The film shows preparations for a people’s tribunal where traditional healers, activists and lawyers come together to discuss indigenous knowledge and exploitation of natural resources by the pharmaceutical industry for commercial gain.
The protagonists slip into different roles and make use of real-world cases involving multinational pharmaceuticals scouting in indigenous communities for the next wonder drug. Ghosts of colonial explorers, botanists and judges observe the proceedings.
Muthi (2016-17) documents and observes the varied traditional herbal practices in Johannesburg, the Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa. This film is a comment on value and practice, whilst touching on the wider issues of the loss of indigenous knowledge and tradition, in the presence of modernity
What Plants Were Called Before They Had a Name (2016) re-creates an oral dictionary of plant names in a dozen South African languages, serving to restore pre-colonial norms and restitute spiritual meaning.
Uriel Orlow lives and works between London, Lisbon and Zurich. He studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design London, the Slade School of Art, University College London and the University of Geneva, completing a PhD in Fine Art in 2002.
His art practice is research-based, process-oriented and multidisciplinary, including film, photography, drawing and sound. He creates works with moving images, lecture performances and modular, multimedia installations. Orlow has become known for projects that evolve through extensive periods of site-specific fieldwork and often include archival and historical research. His artistic research focuses on specific locations and micro-histories.
TUES, THU, FRI, SAT 11-5PM
WED LATE NIGHT OPENING 11-7PM
(CLOSED SUNDAY & MONDAY)
Commissioned by Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network with funding from Arts Council England, and in association with Wellcome Trust, University of Westminster and Parc St Leger Contemporary Art Centre, France.
Image courtesy of the artist.