Writing Desire

A film by Ursula Biemann

2000 | 23 minutes | Color | DVD | Order No. 01731


"Ursula Biemann’s WRITING DESIRE is a video essay on the new dream screen of the Internet and how it impacts on the global circulation of women’s bodies from the third world to the first world. Although under-age Philippine 'pen pals' and post-Soviet mail-order brides have been part of the transnational exchange of sex in the post-colonial and post-Cold War marketplace of desire before the digital age, the Internet has accelerated these transactions. Biemann provides her viewers with a thoughtful meditation on the obvious political, economic and gender inequalities of these exchanges by simulating the gaze of the Internet shopper looking for the imagined docile, traditional, pre-feminist, but Web-savvy mate. WRITING DESIRE delights in implicating the viewer in the new voyeurism and sexual consumerism of the Web. However, it never fails to challenge pat assumptions about the impossibility for resistance and the absolute victimization of women who dare to venture out of the third world and onto the Internet to look for that very obscure object of desire promised by the men of the West. This film will promote lively discussion on third world women, the sex industry, mail order brides, racism and feminist backlashes in the West, and on women’s sexuality, desire, and new technologies." --Gina Marchetti, Ithaca College


“Maps the digital networks of sexuality and gender that utterly redefine feminism. A brilliant surf through the digital landscapes of desire as they morph the gaze for transnational exchanges. An intellectually and artistically edgy tape by one of the most important visual artists working the politics of the analog/digital divide."

Patricia R. Zimmermann Author, "States of Emergency: Documentaries, Wars, Democracies"

"'Writing Desire' is a short, experimental video that documents the traffic in internet brides. By showing how women are deploying the web to market themselves and express their desire (for a good home, for love, to escape poverty), the video functions as a sort of trompe l'oeil that unsettles categories such as love and desire that generally go unquestioned."

Silvia D. Spitta Dartmouth University


  • Dallas Video Festival
  • Govett-Brester Art Gallery, New Zealand
  • Women in the Director's Chair
  • Open Space, International Women's University, Hanover
  • Cornell Cinema, Ithaca
  • Women in Cinema, Washington
  • Videoex, Video ane Expermental Film Festival, Zurich
  • Framing Globality, Stuttgarter Filmwinter
  • All is Fair in Love and War, Rotterdam 2001 Homeport
  • Future Bodies, University of Art and Design, Cologn
  • Sex - on Wishes and Desires, Dresdener Hygienemuseum
  • Gouvernamentality, Hanover
  • Female Geographies, Austrian Cultural Institute, Vienna
  • VIDARTE International Video and Electronic Arts Festival, Mexico
  • Centre George Pompidou, Paris
  • Docfilm and Videofestival Kassel
  • Cinematik, Tijuana, Mexico
  • Center for Media Art, Germany - International Art and Media Award
  • One World Film Festival, Canada
  • Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid


Ursula Biemann

More recently she turned to ecology, oil and water with major art projects including Black Sea Files (2005), Egyptian Chemistry (2012) and Deep Weather (2013). Her video installations are exhibited worldwide in museums and the International Art Biennials of Liverpool, Sharjah, Shanghai, Thessaloniki, Sevilla, Istanbul, and Venice.

Her research is based at the Zurich University for the Arts and she is publisher of several books, e.g. "Stuff it" the Video Essay in the Digital Age (2003), Mission Reports - Artistic Practice in the Field (2008). She is currently working on a new piece on the Ecuadorian Amazon, commissioned by Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University.

Biemann has a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York (1988). She received a doctor honoris causa in Humanities by the Swedish University Umea and the Prix Meret Oppenheim, the national art award of Switzerland. (03/19)


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