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


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


Ursula Biemann

Ursula Biemann is an artist, writer, and video essayist based in Zurich, Switzerland. Her artistic practice is strongly research oriented and involves fieldwork in remote locations where she investigates climate change and the ecologies of oil and water, as in her recent projects Acoustic Ocean (2018), Forest Law (2014), and Deep Weather (2013). Her earlier work focused on global relations under the impact of the accelerated mobility of people, resources and information, e.g. in the widely exhibited art and research project Sahara Chronicle on clandestine migration networks or her early video works examining the role of gender in the global reorganization of labor in Performing the Border. She is cofounder of World of Matter, an online collective art and media platform on resource geographies. Her video installations are exhibited worldwide in museums and at International Art Biennials in Liverpool, Sharjah, Shanghai, Sevilla, Istanbul, Montreal, Venice and Sao Paulo. She had comprehensive solo exhibitions at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein and Helmhaus Zurich among others. Biemann received the 2009 Prix Meret Oppenheim, the Swiss Grand Award for Art and a honorary degree in humanities from the Swedish University in Umeå. (7/19)


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