Soil Affinities explores the connections of (post)colonial history and the movement of plants for agriculture, from Aubervilliers, a northern suburb of Paris, to formerly French West Africa (Mali and Senegal). This publication and Uriel Orlow's eponymous project retrace the lines and networks of earthly connections between plants and humans through images, maps, texts, and interviews conducted in France, Senegal, and Mali over the span of two years.
Soil Affinities returns to Aubervilliers' 19th century market gardening past which ended when the factories started to take over the ground, around the same time as European countries, including France, began to develop a colonial agriculture in Africa. After a year of research in Aubervilliers and in West Africa (Mali and Senegal), Uriel Orlow presents the results of his residency in the form of an exhibition and a catalogue at Les Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers. Soil Affinities is guided by a series of interconnected questions : How can plants become a compass to map historical and contemporary (post-)colonial relations? What remains today of Aubervilliers' market gardening past apart from the town's street names?
This publication is composed of an ensemble of black and white images together with a notebook of texts. These two sections form a dialogue, intertwining the stories told by the authors, all working in echo with each other.
Published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibitions at Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers from October 11 to December 8, 2018.
Uriel Orlow is known for his modular, multi-media installations that take specific locations and events as starting points and combine archival research with evocative visuals and sound. Orlow explores the spatial and pictorial conditions of history and memory, focusing on blind spots of representation and forms of haunting. Working across video, photography, drawing and sound Orlow brings different image-regimes and narrative modes into correspondence.