Solveig Suess: Overland, There's Shorter Time to Dream

As part of the 2020 Preston H. Thomas Memorial Lectures, Solveig Suess presents "Overland, There's Shorter Time to Dream."

November 23, 10:00–11:00 a.m.

"The low pressures in the atmosphere over the Taklamakan and Gobi deserts create windy conditions in the area during late winter and early spring. Loose top soils are picked up by westerly winds, pulling these sands into an increasingly intense Asian dust storm. Freezing all activity in its path, these storms have become an annual occurrence in western China, compared to half a century ago when each phenomenon struck only once every seven or eight years. Their movements have become an increasing threat to the bourgeoning infrastructural projects of the Belt and Road Initiative which stretch across their paths. In this talk and discussion, we begin from inside the dust storm. It is here where we learn how geographies that have long appeared in the peripheries of popular imagination, have been central in the formation of supply chain capitalism—contingent upon state support, concentration and monopolization of capital power, and the organization of weather and the environment itself. Such 'random acts of violence' brought by these storms call for an urgent need to shift our common-sense understandings and contemporary culture in ways which are both imaginary and epistemological. While the Belt and Road imaginary evokes a liquid and mobile world of commodity exchange, its political infrastructures are generating closures as much as openings, stasis as much as flow. These new geometries mark not only the geopolitical reorganization of goods, people, capital, and ideas, but also forms of resistance expressed through movements, grain by grain. The symposium will draw on Solveig’s documentary-led research into the New Silk Road, mapping these constellations through interviews, field recordings, found WeChat videos with excerpts from her documentary AAA Cargo (2018)."
~Solveig Suess


Solveig Suess’s work focuses on embodied and ecological politics across infrastructural environments, through documentary-making, research, and writing. Her practice engages with how circuits of trade, information, and climates are inextricably tied to the politics of capital, power, and control. Her inaugural film AAA Cargo is a documentary-essay on the New Silk Road, where government efforts to speed up trade collide with more-than-human choreographies of materials. Solveig collaborates with Asia Bazdyrieva on Geocinema, through which they research how environmental sensing has articulated Earth transformations, using expanded cinema as a method to investigate aesthetics in geopolitical systems. Solveig was a former Digital Earth fellow, holds a Masters from the Centre of Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, and is currently a Ph.D. researcher with the Cycles of Circulation project at Critical Media Lab Basel. Her work has been exhibited worldwide including Rotterdam International Film Festival, Images Festival Toronto, ArtScience Museum Singapore, ZKM Karlsruhe, OCAT Beijing, Konsthall Trondheim. In 2020 Geocinema was nominated for the Schering Stiftung Award for Artistic Research.

Register here for the lecture.


SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610