Learning from Artemisia
by Uriel Orlow
Uriel Orlow, Learning from Plants, Biennale de Lubumbashi, 2019

Wednesday, 26 February 2020
18:00 to 21:00
27/02/20 – 11/04/20
opening hours
Thursday – Saturday
12:00 to 18:00

about the exhibition
Throughout his multidisciplinary and research-oriented work, Uriel Orlow uses the world of botany as a lens through which he explores the socio-political, economic and spiritual ramifications of colonization. Often departing from specific sites, Orlow links micro-histories to larger geopolitical contexts in order to bring to the fore the historical and current blind spots of representation and transmission.

In Learning from Artemisia, Orlow explores plant healing and global power relations through Artemisia Afra, the African wormwood, an indigenous medicinal plant cultivated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, alongside other African countries, used for malaria treatment. Despite its proven effectiveness and sustainable production, the World Health Organization does not recommend the use of this plant material, in any form, including tea, for the treatment or the prevention of malaria. Meanwhile the pharmaceutical industry derives large revenues from using the plant’s active ingredient ‘artemisinin’ to produce antimalarial medication supported by the WHO.

Combining films and documentation from his work with a cooperative of women in Lumata (south of Lubumbashi) with archival materials from the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, the artist traces back the history of malaria linked to extractive capitalism, while highlighting the benefits of a collaborative economy.

Curated by Laura Herman

This exhibition is supported by Pro Helvetia. 


about the artist

Uriel Orlow lives and works between London and Lisbon. He studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design London, the Slade School of Art, University College London and the University of Geneva, completing a PhD in Fine Art in 2002. Orlow’s practice is research-based, process-oriented and multi-disciplinary including film, photography, drawing and sound. He is known for single screen film works, lecture performances and modular, multi-media installations that focus on specific locations and micro-histories and bring different image-regimes and narrative modes into correspondence. His work is concerned with spatial manifestations of memory, blind spots of representation and forms of haunting.

Orlow’s work is presented widely in museums, film festivals and international survey shows. In 2018 Sternberg Press published the major monograph Theatrum Botanicum and in 2019 Shelter Press published the monograph Soil Affinities. Orlow is visiting professor at the Royal College of Art London and is currently Reader (associate professor and senior researcher) at University of Westminster, London and lecturer at ZHdK, the University of the Arts, Zurich.