Artist Talk – ‘Ciné-Cipó – Cine-Liana at Amazon Tall Tower Observatory’. Barbara Marcel (Bauhaus-Universität Weimar) in conversation with Delfina Cabrera, Ariadne Y. Collins, Marlon Miguel at the Symposium organized by Delfina Cabrera, Ariadne Collins and Marlon Miguel in collaboratio with materia – DLCL Focal Group (Stanford University) at ICI Berlin - Institute for Cultural Inquiry.
27.09.2021, 19h30

‘The things that white people work so hard toextract from the depths of the earth, minerals and oil, are not foods’, as shaman and Yanomami spokesperson Davi Kopenawa pointedly observes in The Falling Sky. Extraction has been historically associated with the removal of underground materials, whereas extractivism is a broader notion connoting a primarily white, colonial mode of accumulation of the West. For most Latin American countries, their natural wealth became their curse, permeating both the material and the symbolic realms. The extractive regime binds the environment and rules the lives of those subjugated to it by transforming them into mere commodities. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, rubber exemplified particularly well the devastating consequences of extractivism. Latex fulfilled the industrial dream of an ‘extraordinary substance’, the first material whose plasticity made it suitable to become everything else: waterproof garments, automobiles, communication infrastructure, mechanized warfare. Throughout its extraction boom, the Amazon Rainforest supplied around 60% of the world’s rubber demand. This hunger for rubber reflected the expanding omnipotence of global capitalism with ruinous consequences for the environment as well as for the local populations. During the overlooked genocide along the Putomayo River, according to John Tully, for every ton of rubber extracted and dispatched to the Global North, seven indigenous lives were lost.

The removal of large quantities of natural resources from the Global South has been foundational for meeting the increasing demand for goods of the centers of nascent capitalism. This logic never ceased and what one calls today neo-extractivism reproduces the colonial and subordinated condition of the so-called peripheral countries. Yet, this extractive rationality does not only secure the production of goods but extends itself to the production of knowledge and to the import of epistemic frameworks that explain local realities. Cognitive extractivism, claims Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, privileges the ‘center’ as the producer of theoretical and interpretative models whereas the ‘periphery’ remains relegated to the status of the illustrative case. Exported raw material are subsequently converted into concepts and shipped back to their places of provenance with added value. The symposium seeks to examine and question the different modes of extractivism that have marred and marked the histories of Latin America and the Caribbean. The distinctive qualities of rubber (plasticity, isolation, expansivity, erasure) are the starting point for a contemporary inquiry of (neo)extractivism. Its political, environmental, cultural and social facets are to be analyzed, in particular as they are critically undertaken by literature and the visual arts. Artists and scholars will explore this mode of accumulation in its intimate relationship to the production and circulation of theory and cultural capital; to epistemicide and necropolitics; and to a restrictive worldview of ‘nature’ as an inert reservoir for economic exploitation.

Link To The ICI Website


3rd Seminar on art and city research_DESILHA 2021: MINERAL LANDSCAPES
10.06.2021, 17h30

Presentation and mediation: André Leal

Rocks are inert elements produced deep in the earth's crust, a product of the deep time of geology. When they emerge, they are transformed by human action and converted into the materials that are the basis of our society. How can we access the stories that are deposited in the mineral layers on which we walk every day? How can we tell the stories inscribed in the stones, in certain places, in the paths we trace? These are some of the themes and questions that will guide the presentations that revise and displace these mineral landscapes in different ways. In the practices of Mabe Bethônico, Claudia M. Plens, Flora Dias, Barbara Marcel and Tom Nóbrega reside exercises of making visible the subterranean layers that compose the present.

Barbara Marcel and Tom Nóbrega
Conversation about the artistic project "Blue Canary, Golden Tone"

"Blue Canary, Golden Tone" is a video installation about canary birds, the domestication of mines and the denaturalization of nature. The project comes from a research on the historical and cultural landscape of the Harz mountains in Germany, where many of the technologies for extracting mineral soil were developed and then exported to various parts of the planet. In an essayistic way, the video reflects on the intersections of past, present and future of this anthropogenic landscape, through the particular history of domestication, breeding and trade of canary birds in the region. In a set of videos made of hands and machines, silver and serinets, heavy metal contaminated hills and fallen pine trees, sightseeing tours and intimate interviews, the iconic landscape of the German Harz gradually reveals its many hybrid layers, giving way to an open field of potentially transformative sonic flights.

Click here to watch the conversation.


09.06.2021 "People and Mountains and Animals", article in the German newspaper TAZ - Die Tageszeitung about the duo exhibition BIRDS AND BUOYS at Bärenzwinger Berlin.

Click here to read the article.

The double exhibition »Birds and Buoys«, with works by Nadja Abt and Barbara Marcel, brings two complex and long-standing artistic strands of research together and deals with transatlantic labour and the cultural history of shipping and mining from a feminist and queer perspective. Together, the works reference the architecture and history of the Bärenzwinger as well as its immediate neighborhood.

Click here to read more about the project.


28.04.2021, Artist Talk with Paz Guevara about the duo exhibition BIRDS AND BUOYS at Bärenzwinger Berlin with works by Nadja Abt and Barbara Marcel.

Click here to watch the talk.

On 28 April 2021 from 6.30 to 8 pm, Bärenzwinger invited you to an online artist talk around the exhibition »Birds and Buoys«. The two participating artists, Nadja Abt and Barbara Marcel, each addressed their individual approach and presented some of the long-standing research that formed the background to their works on display at the Bärenzwinger. Abt and Marcel have independently of each other been working for many years on the transatlantic history of labour and culture in shipping, respectively mining.

Together with curator, researcher and author Paz Guevara and exhibition curator Katja Kynast, they explored the connections between their artistic works and questioned the ways in which they relate to the architecture and history of the Bärenzinger and its immediate neighbourhood including the historic harbour, the Marinehaus (former clubhouse of the Imperial Navy) and the Brazilian Embassy.

Click here to read more about the project.


26.04.2021 "What's on the stars", article in the German newspaper TAZ - Die Tageszeitung about the project Südstellium.

Click here to read the article.

The exhibition project SÜDSTELLIUM includes artistic interventions on three subway boards located at the U1 Kottbusser Tor subway station and starts at Gallery Weekend Berlin. Berlin-based artists Ana Hupe, Barbara Marcel and Matheus Rocha Pitta have rented the platform boards for 20 days to deliver messages from the skies of the global south that are not so evident from Berlin.

Click here to read more about the project.

© 2021 Barbara Marcel