On a bright late April morning in Philomath, Oregon, a crew of intrepid seekers of microbial encounters braved deep mud, steamy manure, and swirling barn-dust, then undertook a peculiar hunt for invisible “treasures” in the wet grass of the pasture, all as part of the Welcome to the Secretome workshop at the R.A.W. Ass Farm. In association with The Arts Center and OSU Dept. of Microbiology’s exhibition, Microbiomes: To See the Unseen, Domestic/Wild artists Emily Stone and Karin Bolender led explorers through a web of seamy adventures aimed to press against real and imagined boundaries of bodies-in-places and to welcome invisible but lively microbial presences. We conversed and shared a multispecies picnic of fermented foods and drink atop a hotly composting manure pile; we hung out in the barn with resident asses, Aliass and Passenger; and we made friendly gestures of various kinds toward embodied wisdoms of symbiotic kombucha mothers and barnyard ass-tongue microbiomes. Most of all, we all spent the morning welcoming and attending in new ways to the presences of microscopic “old friends” we more often avoid or simply ignore. Thank you to all who attended, and to Melody Owen, Christine Toth, Sharyn Clough, and Hanne Niederhausen for contributing photos.
What strange treasures will discover us in the barn dust, wet grass, and brewing mud? What secrets will we gather from encounters with the Great Muzzle Tongue?
Come find out, on April 29th from 10-12:
This exhibition at Buro BDP in Berlin accompanies the launch of two new publications in the Parapoetics Series from Broken Dimanche Press/Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology: RAW Assmilk Soap, by Karin Bolender, and Air Kissing, by Amanda Ackerman.
Let’s start this off with the old R.A.W. questions:
Who lives here?
What are you looking for?
Where do you go now?
Is it a place, or a way of life? And what is on the other side?
These seemingly-simple questions have guided the wanderings, experiments, and assemblages of the Rural Alchemy Workshop (R.A.W.) for many years, ever since they grew up from the trashy, thistle-grown pastures of a derelict farmstead in the Valley of Dooms, Virginia, where me and the herd tried our darnedest to make a peaceful-ass and lasting home. In this, that, and every place we’ve grazed and gamboled since, the R.A.W. questions rise up fresh, always opening new paths of investigation into unfamiliar territories.
Knowing a place is always a question of scale. And it turns out that some of the mostly deeply unknown territories we find ourselves in are those we find in the places we call home. When we begin to look past the largest-looming familiar forms, step off the well-trodden paths, questions of who and what and where become wholly new and wild. Even our own bodies are inextricable meshes of biological becomings-with we swim in, themselves housing hosts of unknown others we don’t see or feel or otherwise acknowledge. But here they are, all the time: myriad who, every one with a what and where of its own.
Home is where the unknown is. This is where the journey begins.
Welcome to the Secretome.
Curated by Eben Kirksey, Grace Glovier, Cody Kohn, Kayli Marshall, Greg Umali, and Alexandra Palocz
February 29th – March 31st
Butler College, Studio ’34 Cafe
Emergent ecologies are being fastened into place with new rivets and cyborg articulations. Amidst collapsing systems, unruly assemblages are flourishing and proliferating in unexpected places. This exhibit is an outgrowth of the Freshman Seminar, “Environmental Art: Thinking, Making, Dreaming.” Alongside work by established international ecoartists, bioartists, sculptors, and performers we will exhibit work by “wild artists”—students and others in the Princeton community who do not have recognizable art credentials. We are pushing Joseph Beuys’ famous decree—“You are all artists”—beyond human realms to include microbes, insects, and plants.
This reception in the Studio ‘34 Café at Butler College follows a special event in the same space: “Hope in an Era of Extinction,” featuring a talk by Cary Wolfe (Rice) starting 4:30, and a panel discussion with Kevin Esvelt (MIT), Beth Shapiro (UC Santa Cruz), James Hatley (Salisbury), Genese Sodikoff (Rutgers), Ashley Dawson (City University of New York), Maria Whiteman (Rice), Rafi Youatt (New School), David Wilcove (Princeton), and Graham Burnett (Princeton).
Rather than be a static exhibit, which will stay the same from the opening and closing dates, our project will involve playing with the “hap” of what happens. We will be conducting experiments with happiness and glass, breaking down boundaries (and constructing new ones) to see what ecological communities might emerge.