As part of the Community Partnership Exhibition Program THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM–GRAND OPENING (On View September 13 – October 4), environmental activists and researchers have been invited to address how climate change might affect New York City, utilizing the Museums large scale model of NYC and the model of NYC’s watershed.
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.
ABOUT THE PRESENTER
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, BogotÃ¡.
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, 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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