The Natural History Museum
Community Partnership Exhibition Program
Sep 13 2014
Oct 4 2014
The Natural History Museum is a new museum that does exhibitions, expeditions, educational workshops and public programming, but includes the social and political forces that shape nature, yet are left out of traditional natural history museums.
The Natural History Museum borrows from the legitimating aesthetics, pedagogical models, and presentation forms of natural history museums in order to support a perspective on nature as a commons. From this perspective, it lifts up the work of socially engaged artists and climate activists so that their interconnections appear.
The museum is a new ongoing project initiated by arts collective Not An Alternative. Members of the collective perform as anthropologists in the museum and as museum anthropologists, interrogating the influences that affect both the atmospheric climate on Earth and the political climate within natural history museums.
Like many of the collective’s previous projects, this one will employ the strategy of mimicry—originally a scientific process among animal species, now powerfully deployed by activists to exert pressure on predatorial actors. In this case, they will mimic traditional natural history museums with an aim to politicize the aesthetics of the re-presentation of nature.
The Natural History Museum will have its grand opening at the Queens Museum September 13th – October 4th. It is timed to coincide with the People’s Climate March, an historic march through the streets of New York City, with an anticipated hundreds of thousands of people calling for climate justice.
To celebrate the launch, a series of panels, workshops, and performances with artists, activists, scientists, anthropologists, historians, and theorists will introduce the public to the historical and theoretical framework that informs The Natural History Museum’s programs. Presenters include authors Christian Parenti and Astra Taylor, scientist Michael Mann, artists Mark Dion and Liberate Tate, historians Fred Turner and Stuart Ewen, media/political theorist Jodi Dean, activists Eddie Bautista and Elizabeth Yeampierre, and others.
In tandem with the museum’s opening will be the launch of The Natural History Museum’s online museum, (to be found at http://thenaturalhistorymuseum.org), and The Natural History Museum’s mobile museum, a 15-passenger tour, expedition, and action bus.
Curation: Not An Alternative
Exhibition Design: Not An Alternative
Design: Not An Alternative and The Public Society
Event Production: Paul Amitai
ABOUT NOT AN ALTERNATIVE
Not An Alternative is a ten year-old Brooklyn-based arts collective and artist-run non-profit organization with a mission to affect popular understandings of events, symbols, and history. Through engaged critical research and design, the group curates and produces interventions on material and immaterial space, bringing together tools from architecture, theory, exhibition design, and political organizing.
All of these efforts are enacted with an eye toward social change and strategies for creative political intervention that involve creating participatory points of entry for arts audiences and everyday citizens alike—not through a typical head-on (or head-butt) approach, but through the co-optation of popular vernacular, semiotics, and memes.
Not An Alternative’s creative actions, installations, and presentations have been featured within art institutions such as Guggenheim (NY), PS1/MOMA (NY), Tate Modern (London), Victoria & Albert Museum (London), and Museo Del Arte Moderno (Mexico City), and in the public sphere, where they collaborate with community groups and activist mobilizations.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
All events located at the Queens Museum unless otherwise indicated
September 13: Opening Party (5pm-8pm)
5:00-6:00 Ribbon-cutting ceremony & reception
6:00-7:00 Presentation by Not An Alternative
7:00-8:00 Reception continues
September 14: Panel (3pm-5pm)
The Museum Divide: Beyond Institutional Critique
With Mark Dion, Gavin Grindon, and Steve Lyons
Institutional critique expresses and comes up against the limits of the institution. How are activist artists borrowing the vocabulary of the museum and in so doing extending the political potential already dividing the institution from within. We will consider projects such as Liberate Tate and Art Not Oil.
September 16: Press Conference & Performance (time tbd)
The Natural History Museum and Science Stands co-present a press conference and creative action with scientists calling out the attack on science. Location: Outside of Hayden Planetarium on the steps of the American Museum of Natural History.
September 20: Panel (3pm-5pm)
Words from our Sponsors: The Genealogy of Patronage in Museums
With Dr. Alice Bell and Wayne Modest
Corporate sponsorship of museums and science education can compromise the basic idea of museums as reliable sources of common knowledge. By considering historical as well as contemporary examples of museum funding, we look at the power structures embedded in practices of collecting and display.
September 21: Climate March (11:30am-5pm)
People’s Climate March, NYC
Join The Natural History Museum at the largest climate march in history. It kicks off at 11:30am at Columbus Circle, and ends with music, food, art, and organizing in the streets at 11th Ave and 34th St.
September 27: Tours, Talks & Screenings (1pm-3pm)
Climate Change in an Urban Panorama
Juan Camilo Osorio of the NYC-Environmental Justice Alliance guides visitors through a tour of the Queen’s Museum’s famous Panorama of the City of New York. Models can be inspiring as they change the scale of people’s encounter with their environment. By looking at the vast architectural model of New York City from the perspective of climate justice, visitors see directly the challenges and opportunities faced by urban planning for a changing climate. The tour is followed by the projection on the panorama’s back wall of photos and videos from Sandy Storyline, a participatory documentary project initiated by Housing is Human Right and the MIT Center for Civic Media.
What the Frack are You Drinking?
Matt Malina, Director of NY H20, uses the Watershed Model, a 540 square foot relief map built by the Department of Water Supply, Gas, and Electricity for the 1939 World’s Fair, to illustrate the potential impact of fracking of NYC’s water supply. Following the tour is an emergency short film detailing the public relations strategies and misinformation campaign perpetuated by the gas industry. "The Sky is Pink,” directed byOscar-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox, looks at the gas industry’s flagrant disregard for the health and safety of the communities it ravages and the historic decision New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is poised to make.
September 27: Panel (3:30pm-5:30pm)
Climate Wars: Propaganda, Debate, and the Propaganda of Debate
With Stuart Ewen, Michael Mann, and James Hoggan
Shifting strategies–from denialism to obfuscation, advertising, and public relations–mislead the public. People become cynical and uncertain, mistrusting of any and all efforts to confront the changing climate. With science under attack, what is to be done? How might we break through the propaganda fog and into collective action?
September 28: Panel (3pm-5pm)
Seeing the Display: Environmentalism’s Ideological Habitat
With Peder Anker, Fred Turner, and Jodi Dean
This panel looks at the ways the structure of exhibitions, design and communication influences how we see what is natural in the autopoietic habitats of the contemporary.
October 2: Workshop (all day)
Anthropological Workshop and Guided Museum Tour
The Natural History Museum presents a day-long anthropological workshop for students from theHemispheric Institute at New York University. Topics covered include institutional critique, interventionism, and the politics of display. Includes a guided tour of and exercises within the American Museum of Natural History.
October 3: Workshop (all day)
Anthropological Workshop and Guided Museum Tour
The Natural History Museum presents a day-long anthropological workshop for students from the Center for Artistic Activism at New York University. Topics covered include institutional critique, interventionism, and the politics of display. Includes a guided tour of and exercises within the American Museum of Natural History.
October 4: Closing Panels (1pm-3pm and 3:30pm-5:30pm)
Anthropocene, Capitalocene or Ecology For All
With Christian Parenti, Jason Moore, and Razmig Keucheyan
Edward Abbey compares capitalism with cancer: growth for the sake of growth. This panel considers the violent legacies of capitalism’s exploitation and appropriation of nature. It inquires into how views of natural systems as separate from human systems–political, social, and economic– may be part of the problem we face in confronting climate change.
Counter-Power for Climate Justice
With Gopal Dayaneni, Eddie Bautista, and Elizabeth Yeampierre
To build a global climate movement, we have to address the asymmetries in the burden of responsibility and the burden of impact. This requires that we acknowledge the ways inequalities are deeply embedded in the systems that continue to produce and deny climate change, hindering our abilities to mobilize against it. In the wake of the People’s Climate March, climate justice activists are shifting the discourse and building a movement.
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Peder Anker is a historian of environmental sciences, specializing in the history of ecology and ecological architecture and design. Anker is currently an associate professor at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study and the Environmental Studies Program at New York University. Anker has received research fellowships from the Fulbright Program, the Dibner Institute and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and been a visiting scholar at both Columbia University and University of Oslo. He is the author of From Bauhaus to Eco-House: A History of Ecological Design (Louisiana State University Press 2010), which explores the intersection of architecture and ecological science, and Imperial Ecology: Environmental Order in the British Empire, 1895-1945 (Harvard University Press, 2001), which investigates how the promising new science of ecology flourished in the British Empire.
Eddie Bautista is the Executive Director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA), a network of community-based organizations advocating for the empowerment and just treatment of environmentally overburdened neighborhoods. Previously, Eddie served as Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of City Legislative Affairs – where he spearheaded efforts to pass several landmark laws, including NYC’s 20-year Solid Waste Management Plan – and Director of Community Planning for NY Lawyers for the Public Interest, where he organized coalitions blocking the siting of polluting infrastructure in overburdened communities, while revising public waste and energy policies. An award winning urban planner and community organizer, Eddie has been interviewed by local and national media outlets. Several books feature Eddie’s work, including The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, by Roberta Brandes Gratz (2010); Noxious New York: The Racial Politics of Urban Health and Environmental Justice, by Julie Sze (2006), and We Won’t Move: Community Planning in "The Real Estate Capital of the World” by Tom Angotti (2008). Eddie is also a Visiting Professor at Pratt Institute’s Graduate Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development.
Dr. Alice Bell is a freelance journalist and editor The Guardian’s science section. She has written extensively about the links between industry and science education. Dr. Bell has worked in academia as a Lecturer in Science Communication at Imperial College. She has a background in the social studies of science and education, and a PhD in science communication (Imperial). Alice’s research interests largely surround children’s science books, but she is also interested in public engagement with science policy and the impact of the web on the science media. She has worked widely in science communication, for groups or institutions such as the Science Museum, NESTA, the British Council, CoPUS, the BSA and the Wellcome Trust.
Gopal Dayaneni has been involved in fighting for social, economic, environmental and racial justice through organizing and campaigning, teaching, writing, speaking and direct action since the late 1980’s. He currently serves on the Staff Collective of Movement Generation: Justice and Ecology Project, which brings a strategic understanding of ecological crisis and transition to racial and economic justice organizing. Gopal is an active trainer with and serves on the boards of The Ruckus Society and the Center for Story-based Strategy. He also serves on the advisory boards of The Working World and Catalyst Project. Gopal works at the intersection of ecology, economy and empire.
He has been a campaigner for Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition on human rights and environmental justice in the high-tech industry and the Oil Campaigner for Project Underground, a human rights and environmental rights organization which supported communities resisting oil and mining exploitation around the world. Gopal has been active in many people powered direct action movements, including the Global Justice /Anti-Globalization Movement, Direct Action to Stop the War, Mobilization for Climate Justice, Take Back the Land, and Occupy.
Jodi Dean teaches media and political theory and is the Donald R. Harter ’39 Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is currently a Fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University. She has written 7 books, including: Solidarity of Strangers (1996), Aliens in America (1998), Publicity’s Secret (2002), Zizek’s Politics (2006), Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies (2009), Blog Theory: Feedback and Capture in the Circuits of Drive (2010), and The Communist Horizon (2013). She edited Feminism and the New Democracy (1997), Cultural Studies and Political Theory (2000), with Paul A. Passavant, Empire’s New Clothes: Reading Hardt and Negri (2004), with Jon Anderson and Geert Lovink, Reformatting Politics: Information Technology and Global Civil Society (2006).
Mark Dion is known for making art out of fieldwork, incorporating elements of biology, archaeology, ethnography, and the history of science, and applying to his artwork methodologies generally used for pure science. His art uncovers the structures that govern the natural world, dissolving the boundary between nature and culture; in his view, ‘nature is one of the most sophisticated arenas for the production of ideology’. Traveling the world and collaborating with a wide range of scientists, artists, and museums, Dion has excavated ancient and modern artifacts from the banks of the Thames in London, established a marine life laboratory using specimens from New York’s Chinatown, and created a contemporary cabinet of curiosities exploring natural and philosophical hierarchies. Dion has a longstanding interest in exploring how ideas about natural history are visualized and how they circulate in society. Dion’s work has been presented at many U.S. and international museums and galleries.
Stuart Ewen is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Film & Media Studies at Hunter College, and in the Ph.D. Programs in History, Sociology and American Studies at The CUNY Graduate Center (City University of New York). He is generally considered one of the originators of the field of Media Studies, and his writings have continued to shape debates in the field. He is the author of a number of influential books, including PR! A Social History of Spin (1996) and All Consuming Images: The Politics of Style in Contemporary Culture (1987; 1999). The latter provided the foundation for Bill Moyers’ 4-part, Peabody, Emmy, and National Education Association Awards winning PBS series, "The Public Mind.” PR! was a finalist for The Financial Times Global Business Book Award in 1997, and provided the basis for a 4-part BBC Television Series, "The Century of the Self.” Ewen’s other books include Captains of Consciousness: Advertising and the Social Roots of the Consumer Culture (1976) and Channels of Desire: Mass /images and the Shaping of American Consciousness (also with Elizabeth Ewen. 1982; 1992). In the spring of 2001, Basic Books published a twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Captains of Consciousness. His writings appear in French, Italian, Spanish, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish, Korean and Japanese translation.
Gavin Grindon is a post doctoral researcher at Kingston University and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum. His research is located within the history and theory of modern and contemporary art, with a particular focus on activist-art and its theoretical contexts. He is currently preparing a monograph on this topic, and has previously published in The Oxford Art Journal, Third Text, Art Monthly, Radical Philosophy and the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. Grindon is a co-curator of the exhibition Disobedient Objects at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2014. He also organized the conferences The Politics of the Social in Contemporary Art at Tate Modern, 2013; Art…What’s the Use at Whitechapel Gallery, 2011; and Revising /Revisiting the Avant-Garde at Kingston University, 2009.
Hans Haacke is a German-American conceptual artist whose controversial works expose the interconnectivity of culture, politics, corruption, and greed. Spanning a range of mediums and drawing upon a variety of contemporary art strategies, from Conceptualism to Land Art, Haacke’s muckraking work often throws back the curtain on the culture industry, probing the shady dealings of museum trustees or other officials who control what is promoted and displayed. As a result of his work, Haacke–who has said he intends his art to “convict” its subject–is regarded as a forefather of an artistic approach known as institutional critique. He has been awarded many prizes, which include the 1993 Golden Lion of the Biennale di Venezia.
James Hoggan is the president of the Vancouver Public Relations firm, Hoggan& Associates. Over the past two decades, Jim has earned a reputation as one of Canada’s leading public relations professionals. His clients have includedA&W Foods, the North West Cruise Ship Association, Vancouver Port Authority, Canadian Tire, Business Objects and Canadian Pacific Rail. Mr. Hoggan is Chair of the David Suzuki Foundation, an executive member of the Urban Development Institute and Future Generations and a Trustee of the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education. He helped establish the Suzuki Foundation Business Council on Sustainability to encourage collaboration between the environmental and business communities. Jim’s interest in climate change and his commitment to practicing ethical public relations converged recently in the creation of the popular website DeSmogBlog. The blog exists to identify unethical PR tactics and to expose the PR people who are trying to confuse the public about climate change. James Hoggan has been trained by Al Gore as part of The Climate Project, an initiative designed to educate the public about climate change.
Razmig Keucheyan is an assistant professor in sociology at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He is the author of Le constructivisme. Des origines à nos jours and has recently edited a selection from Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks in French. He is a member of the editorial board of Contretemps, a critical journal founded by Daniel Bensaïd, and an editor of the “Essais” book series at les Prairies ordinaires. His forthcoming book is Nature is a Battlefield: Test of Political Ecology.
Liberate Tate is an art collective exploring the role of creative intervention in social change. The group aims to “free art from oil” with a primary focus on the art museum Tate ending its corporate sponsorship with BP. Liberate Tate has become internationally renowned for artworks about the relationship of public cultural institutions with oil companies.
Steve Lyons is an artist and PhD student in the Inter-University Doctoral Program in Art History at Concordia University. He is currently studying the history of alternative art spaces in New York, with a particular focus on the ways in which recent articulations of the “alternative” depart from earlier twentieth-century examples. His writing has been published in C Magazineand Border Crossings, and his artwork has been exhibited at venues including Espace Electra, Fondation EDF in Paris, Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography in Toronto, and Centre des arts actuels Skol in Montreal. In 2013, he conducted research at the New School for Social Research in New York with the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Matt Malina is a NYC native and educator. Having grown up in NYC and studied engineering he was curious about its water system. He looked for some presentations about it but didn’t find any so he read up on it and started offering his own. Matt is the creator of NYC H2O, a series of educational tours and lectures about the city’s drinking water system.
Michael Mann is Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC). Dr. Mann received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University. Dr. Mann was a Lead Author on the Observed Climate Variability and Change chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001 and was organizing committee chair for the National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Science in 2003. He has received a number of honors and awards including NOAA’s outstanding publication award in 2002 and selection by Scientific American as one of the fifty leading visionaries in science and technology in 2002. He contributed, with other IPCC authors, to the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He was awarded the Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences Union in 2012 and was awarded the National Conservation Achievement Award for science by the National Wildlife Federation in 2013. He made Bloomberg News’ list of fifty most influential people in 2013. In 2014, he was named Highly Cited Researcher by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) and received the Friend of the Planet Award from the National Center for Science Education. He is a Fellow of both the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Mann is author of more than 170 peer-reviewed and edited publications, and has published two books including Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming in 2008 and The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines in 2012. He is also a co-founder and avid contributor to the award-winning science website RealClimate.org.
Wayne Modest is the director of the Research Centre for Material Culture at the National Museum of Ethnography and the Head of the Curatorial Department at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. Previously he was the Head of Anthropology at the Horniman Museum in London and Director of the Museums of History and Ethnography at the Institute of Jamaica. Recent publications include ‘Slavery and the (Symbolic) Politics of Memory in Jamaica: Rethinking the Bicentenary’ in Laurajane Smith et al. (ed) Representing Enslavement and Abolition in Museums: Ambiguous Engagements.
Jason W. Moore is assistant professor of sociology at Binghamton University, and coordinator of the World-Ecology Research Network. He writes frequently on the history of capitalism in Europe, Latin America, and the United States, from the long sixteenth century to the neoliberal era. His research has been recognized with the Braverman Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (1999); the Bernstein and Byres Prize in Agrarian Studies (2011); the Distinguished Scholarship Award of the American Sociological Association’s Political Economy of the World-System Section (2002, and 2011 honorable mention); and the Alice Hamilton Prize of the American Society for Environmental History (2004). He is presently completing Ecology and the Rise of Capitalism, an environmental history of the rise of capitalism, for the University of California Press.
Juan Camilo Osorio is the NYC-Environmental Justice Alliance’s Director of Research. He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Pratt Institute’s Graduate Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development (PSPD), introducing graduate students to qualitative and quantitative urban planning research. Before joining NYC-EJA, he was a Senior Planner and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst at The Municipal Art Society Planning Center, where he used spatial information to support research and advocacy on community-based planning, urban design and historic preservation. Before moving to New York, he worked with the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, a non-profit agency based in Holyoke, Massachusetts, using GIS to study systematic and procedural impediments to fair housing in the central and western regions of that State. He received a master’s degree in regional planning from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a professional degree in architecture from the National University of Colombia, Bogotá.
Christian Parenti has a PhD in sociology (co-supervised in geography) from the London School of Economics and is a Professor in Sustainable Development at The School for International Training Graduate Institute. His latest book, Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (2011), explores how climate change is already causing violence as it interacts with the legacies of economic neoliberalism and cold-war militarism. The book involved several years of travel and research in conflict zones of the Global South. Parenti has also reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ivory Coast and China.
Astra Taylor is a writer, documentary filmmaker, and activist. Her films include Zizek!, a feature documentary about the world’s most outrageous philosopher, and Examined Life, a series of excursions with contemporary thinkers including Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler, Cornel West, Peter Singer and others. Both movies premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Taylor’s writing has appeared in The Nation, the London Review of Books, n+1, The Baffler, and other publications. She is the editor of Examined Life, a companion volume to the film, and coeditor of Occupy!: Scenes from Occupied America. She also helped launch the Occupy offshoot Strike Debt and its Rolling Jubilee campaign. Most recently she is the author of the book The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age.
Fred Turner is an Associate Professor at Stanford University in the Department of Communication and the author of The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties (2013), From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism (2006), and Echoes of Combat: Trauma, Memory, and the Vietnam War (Echoes of Combat: The Vietnam War in American Memory in 1996; revised 2nd ed. with new title 2001). Before joining Stanford, Turner taught Communication at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned a B.A. in English and American Literature from Brown University an M.A. in English from Columbia University, and a Ph.D.(2002) in Communication from the University of California, San Diego. Before joining academia, Turner worked as a journalist for over ten years writing for the Boston Phoenix and Boston Sunday Globe, among others.
Elizabeth Yeampierre, a Puerto Rican civil rights attorney of African and Indigenous ancestry born and raised in New York City is Executive Director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community based organization. Her vision for an inter-generational, multi-cultural and community led organization is the driving force behind UPROSE; she is a long-time advocate and trailblazer for community organizing around sustainable just development in Sunset Park and holds a law degree from Northeastern University along with a Certificate of Non-Profit Management from Columbia University. Elizabeth is part of the New York City environmental justice leadership responsible for getting NY State’s first Brownfield legislation, Article X power plant legislation and NYC’s Solid Waste Management Plan passed. In Sunset Park, Brooklyn she facilitated an aggressive urban forestry initiative, helped double the amount of open space and developed a project that resulted in the retro-fitting and re-powering of 12 diesel trucks for a local business. She successfully organized a community coalition that defeated a 520 mega-watt power plant application. Elizabeth created a community participatory model that resulted in a community led greenway design for the waterfront. $8.4 million dollars have been allocated for the greenway and park and $36 million dollars in Brownfield remediation funds for the waterfront park. (the largest brownfield grant in New York State History) Elizabeth secured $1,000,000 for emission reduction projects that have been distributed throughout the community. Three years ago she initiated a climate adaption /community resilience effort to address local climate justice concerns for the waterfront community she lives and works in. Elizabeth serves on Mayor Bloomberg’s Sustainability and Long Term Planning Advisory Board, and served as a Commissioner on the historic NYS Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission. Elizabeth is the first Latina chair of the US EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council where she initiated the inclusion of a youth forum dedicated to developing youth leadership dedicated to environmental justice.