Online Talks in Conjunction with the Exhibition

29.09.2020 - 01.10.2020

With T.J. Demos, Maria Thereza Alves und Almagul Menlibayeva
The Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst and the Department of Fine Arts of the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) have organized a three-day series of conversations that will probe the interactions between humans and nature from theoretical and artistic perspectives. "Potential Worlds 1: Planetary Memories" is the first of two exhibitions that explore the current state of the relationship between humanity and nature. The works on view in the first chapter draw attention to the ways in which the environment has been appropriated in the pursuit of power and resources. They point up the consequences for the environment as well as the social fabric and question conceptions in the natural sciences that were developed in the course of the power-driven appropriation of nature.

The series of talks opens with T.J. Demos, professor of art history and visual culture at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His writings have examined the concept of the Anthropocene and the need for a decolonization of nature, among other concerns. He will discuss the capacity of creative practices to devise innovative and experimental strategies that question prevailing social, political, and economic conventions.

Maria Thereza Alves’s (b. São Paulo, Brazil, 1961) career as an artist is inextricably bound up with her work as a political activist—she has been involved in the fight for the rights of indigenous minorities and climate justice; her work seeks to give a voice to those who have been silenced or are generally ignored. In Seeds of Change (currently on view at the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst), an ongoing project she initiated in 1999, she studies the dissemination of plants, which parallels the history of human migration. It illustrates how history comes to be inscribed on the landscape and challenges our understanding of categories of the natural sciences.

Almagul Menlibayeva (b. Almaty, Kazakhstan, 1969) makes work that grapples with the social, economic, and political changes in post-Soviet Central Asia, as reflected in ideas about sex and gender, environmental devastation, and nomadic cosmologies and mythologies. In her video installation Astana. Departure (2015–20) (currently on view at the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst), she reflects on visions of the future and speculates about a planet that is no longer livable.

Tue, 09/19/2020, 5 p.m.: T.J. Demos in conversation with Annemarie Bucher, lecturer (ZHdK), landscape historian, Zurich

Wed, 09/30/2020, 5 p.m.: Maria Thereza Alves in conversation with Heike Munder, director and co-curator of the exhibition, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich

Tue, 10/01/2020, 5 p.m.: Almagul Menlibayeva in conversation with Suad Garayeva-Maleki, former artistic director, YARAT Contemporary Art Space, Baku, and co-curator of the exhibition

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A cooperation of the Department of Fine Arts of the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) with the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst.