Swiss video researcher and artist Ursula Biemann has long been interested in the ecologies and uneven distribution of the Earth’s resources, peoples, and information. For this project she is joined by Paulo Tavares, a Brazilian architect and urbanist who studies the politics of space and indigenous resistance in the Amazon, in the collaborative production of Forest Law (2014), a two-channel video-installation and photo-text assemblage.
Forest Law draws on research Biemann and Tavares carried out in the oil-and-mining frontiers of the Ecuadorian rainforest at the transition between the Amazon Floodplains and the Andean Mountains. This border zone is one of the most biodiverse and mineral-rich regions on Earth, but one which is currently under pressure from the dramatic expansion of large-scale mineral extraction activities. Guiding the work is a series of landmark legal cases that bring the forest and its indigenous leaders, lawyers, and scientists to court, including one such particularly paradigmatic trial, recently won by the indigenous people of Sarayuku from the Ecuadorian lowlands, whose case argued for centrality of the cosmology of the “Living Forest” in their community’s survival.