Uriel Orlow

Uriel Orlow
© BAK, Florian Spring

Uriel Orlow

“We have to deal with the present, but the past is not over. It’s still with us in the form of ghosts, through this haunting. Over the years, this has articulated itself in different ways in my practice.”

“Plants are witnesses to European colonial history. They were collected on expeditions by European botanists, renamed, and fed into the European classification system. It was thinking about this that led me to explore plants as actors in their own right, and not just as a backdrop to human history.”

Uril Orlow

Marie-Eve Hildbrand / Terrain Vague, Lausanne

Uriel Orlow, born 1973 in Zurich, studied in London at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design and at the Slade School of Art; and at the University of Geneva; and received his PhD from the University of the Arts in London. He lives and works in Lisbon, London and Zurich.

Uriel Orlow’s practice is research-based, pro­cess-oriented, and often in dialogue with other disciplines, and often unfolds over extensive periods of time. Projects engage with residues of colonialism, spatial manifestations of mem­ory, social and ecological justice, blind spots in representation and plants as political actors. In Theatrum Botanicum (2015–2018) and oth­er multi-part bodies of work created in recent years, Uriel Orlow explores the role of plants as witnesses to European colonial history and climate change, and as bearers of memory. Tak­ing plants as a point of departure, he maps out more-than-human entanglements and seeks other forms of resistance. Earlier works, such as The Benin Project (2007/2008) or Unmade Film (2012/2013), address the looting of cul­tural property under colonialism, the need for restitution, and the material and psychologi­cal dimensions of places marked by historical trauma.

Uriel Orlow’s multi-media installations focuson specific locations, micro-histories and formsof haunting. In his numerous exhibitions, he connects installation with photography, film, drawing and sound, in order to bring different image-regimes and narrative modes into cor­respondence. This fragmentation of media re­flects the complexity and multi-layered content of his work and invites visitors to move through his exhibitions as active participants. Besides exhibitions, Uriel Orlow realises performative works, including lecture performances, and also collaborates with local communities to realise gardens in London, Lubumbashi and Kathmandu. His projects evolve out of careful processes of listening and paying attention to often overlooked events on the margins of his­tory and current affairs.

In Switzerland, Uriel Orlow’s works were re­cently shown at Kunsthalle Nairs in Scuol, and at three venues in Zurich: Kunsthaus, Edition VfO, and We Are AIA in the Löwenbräu-Areal. He currently has a solo exhibition at Casa da Cerca in Almada, and work in group shows at the MAMAC in Nice, the Kochi Biennale in In­dia and the Macalline Art Center in Beijing.

Orlow’s work has also been presented in nu­merous international survey exhibitions, in­cluding the 54th Venice Biennale, Manifesta 9 and 12, Genk/ Palermo, and biennales in Berlin, Dakar, Taipei, Sharjah, Moscow, Kathmandu, Guatemala, among others.

His work has also been shown at many interna­tional museums and art venues, including the Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Whitechapel Gallery and the ICA in London; the Palais de Tokyo in Paris; Les Complices, Helmhaus and Shedhalle in Zurich; and at various venues in Geneva, Ramallah, Marseille, Cairo, Istanbul, Mexico City, Dublin, New York, Toronto, Melbourne and elsewhere.