50 MIN

Undead Matter #4
Permafrost hydrofeminism

Undead Matter #4

Curated by Sophie J Williamson

Undead Matter is an unfolding conversation about where life lies in the ever-turning matter of our universe, as it rhythmically resurfaces over millennia.

Cultural theorist, Astrida Neimanis’ theory of Hydrofeminism, positions water as an ever-shifting body that connects all beings and archives all histories. Unlike other bodies of water however, the permafrost wishes to remain still. In this fourth episode of Undead Matter podcasts, Neimanis speaks with permafrost hydrologist, Nikita Tananaev to discuss the cultural, philosophical and ecological implications of permafrost degradation as it disrupts ancient ecosystems suspended in the ice.

Covering almost a quarter of the northern hemisphere’s landmass, the vast expanse of frozen permafrost landscape is an urgent frontier of climate change. Rapidly melting in the warming global climate, hundreds of thousands of years of organic matter is thawing, releasing terrifying amounts of methane, carbon and unknown viruses into the planet’s biome.

Traveling across the thermokarst lakes and sparse tundra of northeast Siberia, they explore the complex entanglements of the ecologies, communities, mythologies and temporalities held amongst this fast-shifting landscape. Neimanis and Tananaev consider the blurred realities that exist within the watery movement of thaw and the dissolving of worlds of the Anthropocene. 

This podcast was recorded in early 2022; since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the threat to these precarious landscapes is now more acute than ever.

Undead Matter, initiated and convened by curator Sophie J Williamson, is an ongoing collective project, materialising slowly and organically in exhibitions, events, podcasts, publishing and the intangible. The Undead Matter programme has emerged through intersecting collaborations with artists, poets, dancers and musicians, as well cryomicrobiologists, shamen, paleontologists, mineralogists, archaeoastronomers, woodworkers, quantum physicists, bondage masters, cryonics speculators and others encountered along the way. Each offers a perspective on our place within the infinite impermanence of life: past, present and possible.

This series of podcasts traverse the slippery space between the organic and the inorganic. The conversations travel from remote Arctic tundra, where ancient creatures emerge from the melting permafrost; to deep within the geological substrata of the ocean bed among the sludge of millennia-old microorganisms; outward to the celestial expanse of interstellar dust, full of life-giving potential; and back again.

This podcast was supported by the Centre for the GeoHumanities, Royal Holloway University of London and the European Research Council funded project, Think Deep (Grant no: 863944). Curated by Sophie J Williamson. Produced by Undead Matter. Sound by Either/Or Recordings.
Research Undead Matter Astrida Neimanis Climate change feminism Nikita Tananaev permafrost Sophie J Williamson water
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