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.
– an assembly across species lines
November 6-8, 2015 at Dome of Visions in Copenhagen, Denmark
Featuring artworks by:
Lisbeth Bank(DK)/ Honey Biba Beckerlee (DK)/ Laura Beloff (FN)/ Adam Bencard (DK)/ Karin Bolender (US)/ Beatriz da Costa (BR)/ Elisabeth Friis (DK)/ Fugt (DK) / Fran Gallardo (SP / UK)/ Tue Greenfort (DK)/ Donna Haraway (US)/ Johannes Heldén (SE)/ Kathy High (US)/ Marie Højlund & Morten Riis (DK)/ Natalie Jeremijenko (AU)/ Eduardo Kac (BR / US)/ Rosemary Lee (US)/Ny Jord (DK) / Anna Maria Orru (SE / IT)/ Angela Rawlings (CAN / IS)/ Asbjørn Skou (DK)/ Morten Søndergaard (DK)
The sensitive plant Mimosa Pudica summons experiences of transspecies interdependence in sensory exchanges between humans and flora. A rapidly growing – and potentially hostile – mould calls attention to the fact that we share our homes, our surroundings and even our bodies with a myriad of livings beings, all presenting us with different ways of inhabiting this world. An intimate portrait of cancer in the junction between human bodies and the bodies of laboratory mice investigates knots and obligations across species lines in questions of life and death.
The assembly TRANSSPECIES is full of bastards, hybrids and swarms of interspecies connections. TRANSSPECIES presents art works and thoughts from the vantage of current environmental crisis and the so called ‚anthropocene‘ geological age that challenge the identity and reality of the Western (hu)man. The acuteness of the need to invent new and radically different relations with the innumerable nonhuman creatures inhabiting the earth with ‚us‘ is evident. This calls for bold commitments and serious ventures into non-anthropocentric world views and perspectives that do presuppose the binary oppositions between humans and organic others so fundamental to Western thinking.
In recent years a new wave of contemporary artists and thinkers have engaged in transdisciplinary work drawing attention to environmental questions by investigating the various ways we – humans, animals, bacteria and plants – keep each other company. What worlds are (de)composed in transspecies encounters? What stories stem from the intricate knottings between companions originating from different gene pools? And what are the ethical, philosophical and linguistic consequences of the uncountable interspecies enmeshments of economic, biological, semiotic, and – not least – emotional character?
TRANSSPECIES investigates the current involvements of the contemporary art scene in environmental issues, climate crisis and multispecies assemblies emphasizing the importance of re-negotiating transspecies ethics, and developing new strategies for planetary care and recuperation across species lines.
The assembly presents new productions, as well as already existing works in a variety of installation, sculpture, video and performance. Artists instigate aesthetic experiments in collaboration with other species hereby putting transhuman bodies, identities and voices at stake in muddy contact zones. TRANSSPECIES explores the potentials of artistic practices in articulating new stories about ‘us’ and ‘them’, and experimenting with collaborations that transgress the isolation of anthropocentrism.
The festival takes place in Dome of Visions in Copenhagen. In addition to the exhibited works the festival will offer performances, readings, workshop, talks and open-table discussions transforming Dome of Visions to a public, experimental assembly for the junctions and cross-breedings human and non-human; between art and science.
TRANSSPECIES is curated by Laboratory for Aesthetic and Ecology
TRANSSPECIES is generously supported by Beckett-Fonden, Fonden for Ånd,Vækst og Bevidsthed, The Swedish Arts Council and The Danish Arts Council.
For more information and press photos please contact:
Dea Antonsen and Ida Bencke, curators and co-founders of Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology: firstname.lastname@example.org.
FONDEN FOR ÅND, VÆKST OG BEVIDSTHED
“Gut Sounds Lullaby” is an assay based in performance work that tangles with equine gut sounds, radical theory of Karen Barad, and performative acts of listening with Melanie Moser, Possible, and a party pony named Fireball. It is published in the current issue of Antennae: A Journal of Nature in Visual Culture: http://www.antennae.org.uk/
At last the wonders of the traveling Multispecies Salon is available in portable form, in both traditional physical codex and electronic book formats. Duke University Press has published The Multispecies Salon, a collection edited by Eben Kirksey and featuring works by Caitlin Berrigan, Karin Bolender, Donna J. Haraway, Lindsay Kelly, Dorian Sagan, Miriam Simun, Kim Tallbear, Anna Tsing, and others. The book features provocative ideas about present and future relations between earthly species and even a few tasty recipes for biopolitical interventions. My chapter, R.A.W. Assmilk Soap, traces the figures and metaphors embedded in the making of a rarefied soap, which holds all the questions and hopes of more than a decade spent searching for and making homes with a family of American Spotted Asses.
Triage: three artists sort shifting emergencies of bodies, language, and spaces between, revealing places of opacity, refuge, and intimacy.
with Karin Bolender & Craig Goodworth
September 5 – 28, 2013
If not the last, this batch is certainly the culmination of all the main questions, hopes, and mammalian interconnections that Assmilk Soap is meant to contain. Made in May 2013, this batch of Assmilk Soap holds Passenger’s milk, which she made on the Big Ass Family Road Trip and in the months after our arrival in California; three generations of assfur, from Aliass, Passenger, and Nicholass Moon; and human milk, straight from the R.A.W. source, along with the usual vegetable fats and lye, of course.
This special batch of R.A.W. Assmilk Soap will be traveling to Sydney, Australia this summer to be part of Intra-action: Multispecies Becomings in the Anthropocene, an exhibition of works by artists who reckon in diverse ways with relations among earthly inhabitants.
This soap will also appear in Portland, Oregon, June 6-29, at Gallery 114. It will be part of a show called +1, in which gallery-affiliated artists each invite a non-member artist to show with them. RAW will be showing with sublime encaustic painter Christine Toth.