October 6, 2020 - Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation - A Wildness Distant
e-flux Architecture
October 6, 2020
October 6, 2020

Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Himali Singh Soin, we are opposite like that (still), 2019.

A Wildness Distant
October–December, 2020

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Organized by the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery at Columbia GSAPP, A Wildness Distant is an online program that explores landscape as a site of political imagination. It presents a selection of films by contemporary artists alongside new essays that offer fresh, critical readings of each work. 

From Arctic glaciers to Alpine slopes, from a tropical forest in Puerto Rico to the wetlands of Egypt to the Australian desert: the constellation of landscapes featured in A Wildness Distant constitutes a filmic journey around the world at a moment when the global pandemic has made such an itinerary near impossible. Yet, it is also a moment when climate change is connecting distant parts of the world in previously unimagined ways, producing a chain of environmental effects across continents and oceans that is intensifying the imperative of human migration. Though grounded on a shared earthly surface, the ways that we see, negotiate, and dream of its edges are not only radically divergent but also in constant transformation.

Alighting at points scattered across this surface, the films in this program confront the duality of landscapes as sites of memory and of political imagination. In these works, terrains are not cast in picturesque portraits of lands unsullied by human intervention. Nor are they stages for documentary scenes of resource extraction and ecological catastrophe. Instead, the environmental sensorium of varied topographies—icy, rocky, verdant, wet, dry—provides points of entry into the deep histories of landscapes on which the colliding legacies of colonialism, ideologies, and the Anthropocene have been indelibly inscribed. Probing and plunging into the geology, ecosystems, atmospheres, and sublime immeasurability of these sites, the films uncover competing and intertwined realities, both human and non-human, global and local. They engage poetry, music, fiction, interviews, archival material, and humor to nurture new realities, prismatically unearthing multiple pasts and futures.

A Wildness Distant will unfold in chapters on a dedicated website throughout the fall. Each chapter will comprise a film, which will screen online for a two-week period, and a newly commissioned essay. At the conclusion of the screenings, essays will remain available online as an editorial document of the program.

Contributors to A Wildness Distant include Heba Y. Amin, David Hartt, Lucy Ives, Armin Linke, Shannon Mattern, C.C. McKee, Tuan Andrew Nguyen, and Himali Singh Soin, among others.

Further details on the schedule and list of contributors will be posted on the program website.

October 5–18: 
online screening of we are opposite like that by Himali Singh Soin

A Wildness Distant launches on October 5 with a two-week screening of we are opposite like that (2019) by Himali Singh Soin and an essay by Lucy Ives. Pairing poetry and archival material, we are opposite like that recounts the tale of the omnipresent anxiety in Victorian England of an imminent glacial epoch. The disorienting fear of an invasive periphery sent shudders through the colonial enterprise, the tremors of which can be felt in contemporary times. Here, an alien figure traverses the blank, oblivious whiteness, and undergoes an Ovidian transformation into glimmering ice.

Himali Singh Soin is a writer and artist based between London and Delhi. She uses metaphors from outer space and the natural environment to construct imaginary cosmologies of interferences, entanglements, deep voids, debris, leakages, alienation, distance and intimacy. In doing this, she thinks through ecological loss, and the loss of home, seeking shelter somewhere in the healing power of performance and the radicality of love. 

Lucy Ives is the author of the novels Impossible Views of the World and Loudermilk: Or, The Real Poet; Or, The Origin of the World, as well as editor of The Saddest Thing Is That I Have Had to Use Words: A Madeline Gins Reader. She is a frequent contributor to Art in America and frieze, among other publications. Her first short-story collection, Cosmogony, is forthcoming in March 2021. 

Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
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