Emilia Beatriz @ CCA, Glasgow

Emilia Beatriz presents two 'video clusters' that galvanise international resistance to corporate and state land grabs, bringing them together through a sensual and pleasurable engagement with nature and the landscape

Review by Adam Benmakhlouf | 25 Jun 2019
  • Emilia Beatriz A forecast a haunting a crossing a visitation 2019

Both pieces of gallery furniture (a large sofa and a bench) are covered in moss. They smell like the fur of a pet’s back, and with a similar comforting softness. In this setting, artist Emilia Beatriz presents politicised narratives of contested territories, reconnecting them with a pleasurable engagement with nature.

In the first of two ‘film clusters’, there are atmospheric and landscape shots of Puerto Rico on a large screen. Underneath, a smaller monitor shows interviews with Ana Elisa Pérez Quintero, a beekeeper and activist based in the politicised territory, Vieques. Another speaker describes the dangerous radiation left here after the US military used it as a testing ground for bombs.

From this misery of the devastated and carcinogenic landscape, Pérez Quintero speaks passionately about the 'magical world' of swarm removals in beekeeping. The close-up footage of the bees captivates as it makes visible the micro movements that make up their processes of gathering and building. In its steady gaze, the film practises the close observation that the beekeepers describe, learning collective practices from the behaviour of bees.

A bassy track beckons from the adjoining space. In the second film cluster, the landscape is now Scottsh and fisherman, crofter and minibus operator James Mather describes a struggle around land ownership. This time instead of bees, there are long shots of the formations of leaves on moss piles.

The quiet objectivity of natural documentary is shaken by powerful bass and unexpected dark lit scenes of moss and water. Through sensitive investigation and experimental filmmaking, and sound design from Kiera Coward Deyell, new possibilities are found for action-based and sensuous resistance to state and private land grabs. 

Emilia Beatriz: Declarations on Soil and Honey, CCA, Glasgow, until 30 Jun