As part of the Community Partnership Exhibition Program THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM–GRAND OPENING (On View September 13 – October 4), a panel scholars will be convened to look at the ways the structure of exhibitions, design and communication influences how we see what is natural in the autopoietic habitats of the contemporary.
ABOUT THE PRESENTERS
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.
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.
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).
ABOUT THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM–GRAND OPENING
On View September 13 – October 4
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.
Exhibition made possible thanks to the support of Voqal Foundation, A Blade of Grass Foundation, Chorus Foundation, Eyebeam, and the Queens Museum.
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.
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