Void was delighted to have shown the films Black Sea Files and Sahara Chronicles by Swiss artist Ursula Biemann, curated by Orla Ryan.

Biemann studied art and cultural theory in Mexico and New York. Her art and curatorial practice focus on the representation of minority identities and gender in the media and in posturban zones, such as the US-Mexico border or the periphery of Istanbul.

Black Sea Files is a territorial research on the Caspian oil geography: the world’s oldest oil extraction zone. A giant new subterranean pipeline traversing the Caucasus will soon pump Caspian Crude to the West. The line connecting the resource fringe with the terminal of the global high-tech oil circulation system, runs through the video like a central thread. However, the route followed by the narrative is by no means a linear one. Avoiding the main players in the region, the video sheds light on a multitude of secondary sceneries. Oil workers, farmers, refugees and prostitutes who live along the pipeline come into profile and contribute to a wider human geography that displaces the singular and powerful signifying practices of oil corporations and oil politicians. Drawing on investigatory fieldwork as practiced by anthropologists, journalists and secret intelligence agents, the Black Sea Files comment on artistic methods in the field and the ways in which information and visual intelligence is detected.

Sahara Chronicle is a video collection containing an undefined number of short videos documenting the present sub-Saharan exodus towards Europe. The piece examines the politics of mobility and containment which lies at the heart of the current global geopolitics and takes a close look at the modalities and logistics of the migration system in the Sahara. Unlike the networks facilitated by lasting material infrastructures such as rails or fiberglass, the trans-Saharan migration network is a vibrant process of spatialization performed by the psychic dynamics of anxiety, fantasy and desire, a web made of obstinacy and vulnerability.

Ursula Biemann’s videos have received numerous awards and are screened at festivals and galleries.


Ursula Biemann (born 1955, Zurich, Switzerland) is an artist, author, and video essayist. Her artistic practice is strongly research oriented and involves fieldwork in remote locations from Greenland to Amazonia, where she investigates climate change and the ecologies of oil, ice, forests and water.

Ursula Biemann received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts (1986) in New York and pursued post-graduate studies at the Whitney Independent Study Program (ISP) in New York where she lived most of the 1980s. She returned to Switzerland in 1990. Until 2014 she was a senior researcher at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and continues to give lectures and seminars worldwide.

Biemann is appointed Doctor honoris causa in Humanities by the Swedish University Umea (2008). She has received the 2009 Prix Meret Oppenheim, the Swiss Grand Award for Art and the 2018 Prix Thun for Art and Ethics. She is on the board of the academic journal GeoHumanities.

See more please visit her website


Void Gallery is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Derry City Council.