Past Film/Video | Contemporary Screen | Documentaries

Wild Relatives

(Jumana Manna, 2018)

Detail of a pair of hands in modified gloves using tweezers to cross-pollinate a pair of plants. The gloves are stained with dirt and plant matter.

This remarkable documentary by artist and filmmaker Jumana Manna examines the vulnerability of Earth’s biodiversity in the context of potential natural disasters and man-made catastrophes.

Manna’s essay film documents the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway before spiraling off to cover related complexities. The Global Seed Vault stores backup copies of the world’s plant species in case one of the thousands of smaller gene banks scattered across the planet are ever destroyed. The latter scenario nearly played out in Aleppo with the escalation of the Syrian Civil War. The city’s seed bank was replicated by withdrawing seeds from the Svalbard Vault and replanting them in Lebanon’s Bekka Valley. In Wild Relatives, Manna shows both the connections and disparities between this international initiative and its local implementation. Exposing tensions between preservation methods—state and individual, industrial and organic—Manna highlights the differing realities, divergent concerns, and unequal futures at stake in this journey of seeds. (66 mins., DCP)   
Wild Relatives first screened at the Wexner Center in 2018 and returns in conjunction with the autumn 2023 exhibition Jumana Manna: Break, Take, Erase, Tally. Visit the galleries to see more of Manna’s work.

Jumana Manna, Wild Relatives (video still), 2018. 2K video, 5.1 sound; 64 mins. Courtesy the artist; Brief Histories, New York; and Hollybush Gardens, London.

More about the artist

Jumana Manna chevron-down chevron-up

Jumana Manna (she/her) is a visual artist and filmmaker whose work explores how power is articulated, focusing on the body, land, and materiality in relation to colonial inheritances and histories of place. She has exhibited at venues including the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, California; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp (M HKA) in Belgium; Mercer Union, Toronto; and SculptureCenter, New York, among others. Manna’s work is held in public and private collections internationally, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; MCA Chicago; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Carré d’art, Nîmes, France; National Museum of Norway, Oslo; and Sharjah Art Foundation, United Arab Emirates. Learn more on Jumana Manna’s website.

National Endowment for the Arts
Ohio Humanities 

Rohauer Collection Foundation

Ohio Department of Development
Greater Columbus Arts Council
The Wexner Family
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Ohio Arts Council
Ohio State’s Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme
The Columbus Foundation
Nationwide Foundation
Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease

Mike and Paige Crane
Axium Packaging
Nancy Kramer
Ohio State Energy Partners
Ohio History Fund/Ohio History Connection
Larry and Donna James
Bruce and Joy Soll
Jones Day
Alex and Renée Shumate


Past Film/Video

Wild Relatives