Screening of films by Uriel Orlow / Listening to the Plants Symposium

Film screening with video introduction by Author

Text Information/
Picture Gallery/

October 13, 2023, 8.00 pm, tranzit
Film screening:
The Crown against Mafavuke, 18 mins, 2016
Imbizo Ka Mafavuke, 28 mins, 2017
Learning from Artemisia, 14 mins, 2019

With a video introduction by Uriel Orlow
Event will be held in English.

Medicinal plants and their entanglement with history and politics are at the heart of the three films presented in this program.

The Crown Against Mafavuke (2016) is based on a South African trial in 1940 in which Mafavuke Ngcobo, a traditional herbalist, was accused by the local white medical establishment of ‘untraditional behavior.’ The film explores the ideological and commercial confrontation between two different yet intertwining medicinal traditions and their use of plants, which overlaps gender and race and further questions the notions of purity and origination.

Imbizo Ka Mafavuke (Mafavuke’s Tribunal, 2018) is the sequel which follows Mafavuke Ngcobo’s travel through time and arrives in the present to oversee the preparations for a people’s tribunal where traditional healers, activists, and lawyers come together to discuss indigenous knowledge and contemporary bio-prospecting by the Western pharmaceutical industry and inquire about who benefits when plants become pharmaceuticals, given the multiple claims to ownership, priority, locality, and appropriation.

Learning from Artemisia (2019) focuses on a single plant, Artemisia afra, which has been shown to effectively treat and prevent malaria and can simply be taken as an infusion. However, it not recommended as a treatment by the World Health Organization which appears to favor the pharmaceutical industry and its global reach. Working with a women’s cooperative in Lumata, south of Lubumbashi, DRC, Uriel Orlow planted a small Artemisia afra garden in Lubumbashi.

Uriel Orlow is a visual artist and educator whose work has been presented at numerous international survey exhibitions, including the 54th Venice Biennale, Manifesta 9 and 12 in Genk/Palermo, and biennials in Berlin, Dakar, Kochi, Taipei, Sharjah, Moscow, Kathmandu, Guatemala and elsewhere. His solo shows include Castello di Rivoli, Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen, Kunsthalle Mainz, State of Concept Athens and others. In 2023 he received the Prix Meret Oppenheim / Swiss Grand Prix of Art. His monographic publications include Conversing with Leaves (Archive Books), Soil Affinities (Shelter Press) and Theatrum Botanicum (Sternberg Press). He teaches at ZHdK, University of the Arts, Zürich, the University of Westminster, London and Maumaus ISP, Lisbon.


Event is part of the Listening to the Plants Symposium curated by Judit Angel and Lýdia Pribišová, organized by within the Art Connected 2023 subprogram and Kunsthalle Bratislava, within the framework of A Plant programme.


ERSTE Foundation is main partner of tranzit.

Supported using public funding by the Slovak Arts Council.

Project has been kindly supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum Bratislava, Brazilian Embassy in Bratislava, Faculty of Pharmacy UK, IGR Bratislava, Slovak Pharmaceutical Students' Association.

Media partners:, Flash Art CZ & SK, Kapitál,

@Uriel Orlow

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