Emily Parsons Lord

Emily Parsons-Lord is visiting Vienna to continue her practice considering air and to connect with the artistic community in Vienna through the exhibition When The Wind Blows at the Kunsthaus Wien.

Air is simultaneously local and global, encompassing the effects of breathing as well as the governance of polluters and policy makers. Air is where what we jettison into seeming oblivion is returned. It is a physical site, as well as a place we can project our imaginations. Using air as a thinking object allows you to slide through time and space with whimsey, and renders the intimately familiar as unfamiliar.

When the Wind Blows

The exhibition When the Wind Blows is a cooperation with the University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Air encloses the earth like a membrane. It is the medium of weather and the carrier of odours, sounds and aerosols that influence both climate and health. Air flows into our bodies with our first breath and with death we exhale our last breath. In the context of the current climate crisis, air pollution and storms as well as wind power as a renewable energy source play a role. The invisible element connects living beings, plants and places. The works of the selected international and Austrian artists of different generations aim to make this elementary, yet invisible element visually tangible. They deal with the most diverse aspects and meanings of air, wind and breath and examine their manifestations in ecology, science, politics, culture and mythology. From the life-giving air we breathe to the destructive power of the wind, art makes the great invisible visible in many different ways.

Emily Parsons-Lord installs a complex work that takes us on a journey through time. In The Confounding Leaving (2017) we can experience the individual physical sensations accompanying the intake of air. The composition of air on Earth changed over time: 300 million years ago, the oxygen content in the air was almost twice as high as it is today. At the end of the Paleozoic Era around 250 million years ago, more than ninety percent of Earth’s species became extinct, while the carbon dioxide content in the air increased. For her interactive installation, the artist has had air from different eras prepared according to special recipes. “Carboniferous air,” “Air of the Great Dying,” and “Future Air” can be tasted in the exhibition. What does air taste like? Are there different tastes of air? How is air changing through climate change, and how do we treat the air we need to live and survive?
Artists: Hoda Afshar, Bigert & Bergström, Julius von Bismarck, Olafur Eliasson, Karin Fisslthaler, Ana Grilc, Isabelle Ha Eav, Jana Hartmann, Ayumi Ishii, Sophie Jung, Sjoerd Knibbeler, Ulrike Königshofer, Eduardo Leal, Emily Parsons-Lord, Peter Piller, Werner Reiterer, Roman Signer, Lydia Simon, Ulay/Marina Abramović, Nadim Vardag, Niina Vatanen, Susan Walsh

Curators: Verena Kaspar-Eisert (KUNST HAUS WIEN) and Liddy Scheffknecht (University of Applied Arts Vienna)



Award-winning Australian artist and researcher, Emily Parsons-Lord PhD, makes visually stunning, embodied installations and performances. They elicit wonder and provoke critical re-examination of some of our most fundamental materials, such as air and explosions. Air and explosions continue her investigation into the materials of the climate crisis. Parsons-Lord’s work sits at the forefront of experimental practice. She combines rigorous research into matter and materials, and collaborates with experts in diverse fields—scientific, engineering, environmental.

Based on Gadigal land in Sydney, Parsons-Lord was recently awarded her PhD for her thesis, AIR WORKS: Air as material in contemporary installation and performance art in a time of climate emergency, and a recommendation for the Dean’s Award. Emily completed her Bachelor of Digital Media (Hons) with the Dean’s Award for Academic Achievement in 2007. She went on to finish a Masters of Peace and Conflict Studies at University of Sydney in 2009, leading to a residency in the Christmas Island Refugee Detention facility and furnishing a lifelong commitment to social-justice politics. In 2010 Emily worked as researcher on Trevor Paglen’s The Last Pictures for Creative Time in New York, to send an archive of images etched onto pure silicon inside a gold disc into space on the back of a communications satellite. She currently teaches at the University of New South Wales in Studio Practice.

Parsons-Lord has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, participating in Primavera, 2016, the NSW Visual Arts Fellowship, 2017, Liveworks 2017, Bristol Biennial, 2016, John Fries Award, 2018, A BROKEN LINK, Central St Martin’s, London UK, 2017, Stuttgart Film Winter Festival for Expanded Media, List I Ljosi festival of sun in Iceland, Bundanon Trust inaugural exhibition, Firstdraft Sydney, and Vitalstatistix, Adelaide amongst others. She was recently awarded the main prize in the 2020 Churchie Emerging Art Award.

Following her participation in the prestigious 4A Beijing residency in 2019, Parsons-Lord attained her pyrotechnics license, opening up a new field of enquiry exploring ‘the explosion’ as a site to consider spectacle/spectatorship, destruction, and the physics of explosion. Working with some of Australia’s best pyrotechnicians and chemical experts at University of New South Wales, Emily has been developing new exciting work that maps the explosive story of elements.