Creatures of the Lines: Screening and Discussion

Tue 12 April 2022, 6:30pm - 8:30pm at Online

A live screening of Sonia Levy's film Creatures of the Lines, commissioned by Radar, was hosted by Nottingham Contemporary, followed by a discussion between Levy, Heather Swanson and Filipa Ramos.

Creatures of the Lines
 is produced in collaboration with the environmental anthropologist Heather Swanson. It explores how the desire for economic growth and linear progress has produced straightened forms in England’s watery terrains and asks what risks are associated with the conversion of once-curvy and braided worlds into a linearised landscape.

Drawing on their longstanding research interests and conversations exploring the risks to and in aquatic ecologies with academics from Loughborough University, the film explores how English waterscapes have been transformed via the construction of canals. As arteries of British Empire, canals linked Indian cotton fields to domestic textile mills, facilitating vast ecological transformations from monoculture agriculture in the colonies to industrial discharges in England’s waters, soils, and air– and thus serve as a key site for exploring often-overlooked histories of colonial capitalism and their material presences in contemporary worlds.

Attempting to work from within muddy, submerged sites, rather than from grand narratives or “god’s-eye” viewpoints, the work begins inside canals, telling stories from within the lines. Making use of the open-ended sensibilities of ethnography and natural history, it raises questions about ecological transformations and their ties to infra/structures of global political economy.

The film is accompanied by a keyword glossary, A (Highly) Partial Field Guide to British Canals: Introducing some processes and 

A PDF copy of the glossary accompanying the film is available here.

Sonia Levy is an artist and filmmaker currently based in London. Her practice engages contemporary socio-ecological urgencies at the intersection of art and science. Through this co-becoming of disciplines, she uses filmmaking to query science’s history of entanglement with the logic of Western colonial extractivism. Her work attempts to develop new practices of care that foster dialogue as a means to consider new worlds. 

Heather Anne Swanson is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Aarhus University, as well as Director of the Aarhus University Centre for Environmental Humanities. With a long-standing interest in fish, rivers, and oceans, her current work broadly explores how political economies and ecologies are intertwined. She has been a founding member of several research groups that focus on transdisciplinary methods and collaborations among the natural science, social sciences, and arts. Her newest book, Spawning Modern Fish: Transnational Comparison in the Making of Japanese Salmon, is forthcoming from University of Washington Press in 2022.

Filipa Ramos is a writer and curator with a PhD awarded from the School of Critical Studies at Kingston University, London. Her research focuses on how culture addresses ecology, attending to how contemporary art fosters relationships between nature and technology. She is Director of the Contemporary Art Department of the city of Porto, curator of the Art Basel Film sector and a founding curator of the online artists’ cinema Vdrome. Ongoing and upcoming projects include the arts, humanities and science festival The Shape of a Circle in the Mind of a Fish (since 2018) and Persons Persone Personen, the 8th Biennale Gherdëina (2022), both with Lucia Pietroiusti. She lectures extensively in the fields of contemporary art and ecology.

This screening is curated by Canan Batur for Nottingham Contemporary's Live Programme, with the support of Radar. Nottingham Contemporary's Live Programme is supported by Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham.



Sonia Levy

Creatures of the Lines Read more

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