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Possessed Landscapes

30 January 2020 - 14 June 2020


Dark Matter - Filmstill © Viktor Brim 2020


Hollow Filmstill © Tanja Engelberts                        Karikpo At Oil Well Head © Zina Saro Wiwa


Fán Dòng (The Worldly Cave) Film Still © ZhouTao   The Gas Imaginary © Rachel O'Reilly

The international group exhibition Possessed Landscapes deals with the artistic representation of landscape, but not in its art historical depiction as a place of recreation, as an allegorical tool, or as a stand-in for a higher beauty. Instead, the exhibition investigates the relation between humans and the land through the lens of extraction, exploitation, and colonization.

The exhibition’s title, Possessed Landscapes, points to the ways in which Indigenous concepts of land as inhabited by ancestors are being displaced by industry’s possession of land through boundless extraction, creating a widespread landscape of greed and disconnect.

The invited artists each engage with land that has been transformed by industrial extraction technologies to such a radical extent that the adaptation to these changes by the people who live there is unavoidable. Those who inhabit these dystopic landscapes often appear as foreign bodies—a position they have usually have been forced into. That is, the exploitation of the landscapes depicted in these works often begins with the expropriation of land and the disenfranchisement of the people living there.

The exhibition also focuses on the juxtaposition of propaganda imagery that portrays industrial exploitation as an “adventure” story (such as the sales pitches of both the fracking industry and the diamond mining that serves Russia’s colonial forces) with the artists’ representations of the relations by which these landscapes—both social and environmental—were born.

Drone-captured imagery, a type of photography only recently made possible by emerging technologies, often appears in the exhibited projects, not because of the bird-like, spectacular perspectives it captures, but rather because drones are affordable, widely available tools for civil forensic investigations into industrial practices and the state of ecosystems.

The works in Possessed Landscapes, spanning site-specific installations, videos, and video essays, tackle in diverse ways the strong contrast between capitalist and indigenous concepts of land. They juxtapose colonialist ideas of land as something to be owned by people—“cheap nature” to be exploited without offering anything in return—and various Indigenous groups’ perspectives that refuse such parasitical relations and hold that humans are rather the ones owned by the land.

With Viktor Brim, Tanja Engelberts, Rachel O'Reilly, Zhou Tau and Zina Saro-Wiwa.


Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, Katharinenstraße 23, D-26121 Oldenburg, Tel.: +49(0)441/235-3208, Fax.: +49(0)441/235-2161
Opening Hours: Tuesday - Friday 14:00 -18:00, Saturday - Sunday 11:00 - 18:00, Monday closed
Ein Ausstellungshaus der
Stadt Oldenburg