Twenty-One Percent, 2016

© Ursula Biemann & Mo Diener. Twenty One Percent, 2016. Video Still: Ursula Biemann & Mo Diener

Twenty-One Percent, 2016

Ursula Biemann and Mo Diener

The film Twenty-One Percent starts with a small formation history of atmospheric chemistry. When the sun was darker and the air was warmer, carbon dioxide was abundant in the atmosphere. Plants appeared, turning carbon into oxygen; and when decomposing, they exhaled methane, which kept the planet warm and alive and helped vegetation to thrive and cover the planet. This caused catastrophic oxygen pollution where only the life forms that were able to breathe oxygen survived. More importantly, it is the accumulation of oxygen that finally drove the evolution of thinking minds: 21% of the human consciousness depends on oxygen.

Leaving the images of stirring galaxies and steaming earth, in the midst of the oxygenic forest, a science fictional performer manipulates a multitude of ingredients—minerals, forest fruits, liquids, granulates, and extracts. Sporting a bodytech suit for feeding and monitoring the metabolic processes of her body, the performer lays out the concept of cosmic cooking. In utter concentration she transforms matter into different states of being using chemical processes of extracting, distilling, filtering, decomposing, or macerating.

The film and performance reframe in a refreshing way the entanglement of the cosmic, the earth and our bodies by interlinking the story of the chemical elements that were created in the cosmic event of supernovas, the deadly explosion of stars, to the earth’s materiality, to the basic ingredients of human life and consciousness.

Ursula Biemann (CH)


Ursula Biemann is an artist, writer, and video essayist based in Zurich, Switzerland. Her artistic practice is strongly research oriented and involves fieldwork in remote locations where she investigates climate change and the ecologies of oil and water, as in the recent projects Deep Weather (2013), Forest Law (2014) and Subatlantic (2015). Her earlier work focused on geographies of mobility, e.g. in the widely exhibited Sahara Chronicle on clandestine migration networks. Her video installations are exhibited worldwide in museums and at international art biennials in Liverpool, Sharjah, Shanghai, Sevilla, Istanbul, Montreal, Venice and Sao Paulo. She had comprehensive solo exhibitions at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Lentos Museum Linz and Helmhaus Zurich. Biemann is part of the collaborative project World of Matter and published several books. She received the 2009 Prix Meret Oppenheim, the Swiss Grand Award for Art. 

Mo Diener (CH)

Mo Diener is a performance artist based in Zurich, Switzerland. Her artistic practice reflects on the cultural and political blind spots in contemporary European society. Her body of work generates “history in the present" and is based on a long-term research in civil, forensic and historical archives relative to transnational minorities living in Europe, specifically Roma and Yenish communities. Diener is initiator and director of the Roma Jam Session art Kollektiv (RJSaK). The collective aims to transform Roma ascriptions through a range of media and performative interventions, spatial installations and activist performances. Diener gives lectures and Detox Dance workshops around Europe and she currently works on a book project on the activities of RJSaK. 

Twenty-One Percent, 2016, 17’ | Director Ursula Biemann & Mo Diener | Writer Ursula Biemann

13 February - 1 March

13 Feb 
opening expo 19:30 - 23:00

14 Feb - 1 Mar
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