Contesting the Necroaesthetics of the Anthropocene

invited presentation of Reassembling the Natural at the conference Art/Nature: Contemporary Art in Natural History Museums and Collections, Berlin Museum für Naturkunde

This international conference by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes pilot project, Art/Nature: Artistic Interventions at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin convenes a series of presentations and panel discussions to reflect on the collaboration between protagonists from the worlds of contemporary art and natural history museums. The conference addresses the expectations, potentials, values, and possible limitations of such interactions and interventions from the perspective of curators, artists, and researchers. Reassembling the Natural Co-Principal Investigators Anna-Sophie Springer & Etienne Turpin will present their work in the closing session “Difficult Legacies” on 27 June. Other conference speakers include Tal Adler, Claude d’Anthenaise, Bergit Arends, Ariane Berthoin Antal, Yara Castanheira, Tony Clark, Michael John Gorman, Gaby Hartel, Petra Lange-Berndt, Janet Laurence, Susanne Schmitt, Thomas Schnalke, Barbara Stauffer, Frank Steinheimer, Ulrike Stottrop, D’Arcy Wilson, and Laurie Young.

CeNak Exhibition Research

The Reassembling the Natural team met with the scientific curators of the Zoologisches Museum at the Centrum für Naturkunde (CeNak), Universität Hamburg,  to continue their research for the forthcoming exhibition Verschwindende Vermächtnisse: Die Welt als Wald. Thanks to everyone at CeNak for an inspiring visit.

Reverse Hallucinations in the Archipelago

Following the earlier fourth (!) volume, the third volume of the intercalations: paginated exhibitions series has also arrived from the printer! Reflecting and refracting on the role of colonial science in the tropics, Reverse Hallucinations in the Archipelago gathers contributions by Akademi Drone Indonesia, George Beccaloni, Iwank Celenk, Lucy Davis, Fred Langford Edwards, Christina Leigh Geros, Matthias Glaubrecht, Geraldine Juárez, Radjawali Irendra, James Russell, Mark von Schlegell, SLAVE PIANOS, Anna-Sophie Springer, Zenzi Suhadi, Paulo Tavares, Rachel Thompson, Etienne Turpin, and Satrio Wicaksono, with design by Katharina Tauer. intercalations is co-published by K. Verlag and Haus der Kulturen der Welt and was made possible by the Schering Stiftung.



Graham Foundation Awards Grant for Publication

With a current rate of extinction estimated at over one hundred species per day, the anthropogenic extermination of non-human forms-of-life on Earth is rightly a cause of serious alarm. Such a rate of extinction is made even more troubling when one considers that with the disappearance of each species, the planet not only loses one of its constituent actors, but also greatly diminishes the processes of planetary evolution, as the potential for species’ adaptability rapidly decreases with each and every loss. Following several years of commissioned field work in the global biodiversity hotspots of Nusantara and Amazonia, as well as extensive archival research in major natural history collections, this edited volume weaves together voices and narratives, from science and documentary, to philosophy and poetry, to ask how the concept of “nature” might be meaningfully reassembled against the backdrop of mass extinction.


Speed-Reading Science-Fictions: On intercalations 3 & 4

Invited lecture at the Symposium "On Nature, Race, and Gender," Institut Kunst, Basel

Emphasizing the need for a new culture of learning in both the artistic and scientific practices, Reassembling the Natural Co-PI Anna-Sophie Springer will present a speed-reading through the third and fourth volumes of the intercalations: paginated exhibitions series. The lecture is a last-minute addition to the program of the symposium “On Nature, Race, and Gender: The Politics of the Contemporary Debates around Art, Culture, and Research,” with presentations by Prof. Chus Martinez and guests Filipa Ramos, Tejal Shah, Trevor Paglen, Ingo Niermann, and Natascha Sadr Haghighian.


Requiem for the Cryosphere

A Roundtable on Nature, Politics, and Denial

with Jody Berland, Nigel Clark, and Reassembling the Natural Co-Principal Investigator, Etienne Turpin. Moderated by Sean Cubitt as part of the three-part workshop series “Mediating Deep Space & Time” organised by the Screen and Audiovisual Research Unit (SARU), based at the Department of Media & Communications, at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The World as Forest

Using the new intercalations publication, The Word for World is Still Forest, as a starting point, Anna-Sophie Springer’s second seminar at Institut Kunst in Basel will combine readings and discussions with excursions behind the scenes of the city’s Tropenhaus of the Botanical Gardens, the Museum der Kulturen, and the Natural History Museum. Traversing through the archives of institutions that collect natural and cultural material—books, artworks, artifacts, and scientific specimens—we will reflect on how these institutions organize what is considered knowledge and explore strategies and practices with which we can activate and connect these spaces in ways in which they are not normally viewed by dominant, colonial cultures. The seminar is an introduction to applied critical thinking with a focus on more-than-human entanglements and ecological urgencies of our times.

The Word for World is Still Forest

The fourth volume of the intercalations: paginated exhibitions series has arrived from the printer! An homage to Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1972-novella The Word for World is Forest, this book-as-exhibition gathers contributions by Sandra Bartoli, Kevin Beiler, Shannon Castleman, Dan Handel, Katie Holten, Elise Hunchuck, Silvan Linden, Yanni A. Loukissas, Eduardo Kohn, Pedro Neves Marques, Abel Rodriguez, Carlos Rodriguez, Suzanne Simard, Anna-Sophie Springer, Paulo Tavares, Etienne Turpin, and Catalina Vargas Tovar, with design by Katharina Tauer. The Word for World is Still Forest is co-published by K. Verlag and Haus der Kulturen der Welt and was made possible by the Schering Stiftung.

A Natural History of the Stack

A two day workshop by Reassembling the Natural Co-Principal Investigator Etienne Turpin as part of Benjamin Bratton’s ‘The New Normal’ program for the Strelka Institute of Media, Architecture, and Design.

Our Vectors, Ourselves

An essay by Reassembling the Natural Co-Principal Investigator Etienne Turpin and researcher Kalli Stull in the e_flux journal series, Superhumanity, published alongside the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial—Are We Human?

To Look Around Rather Than Ahead

On the Present Future in the Art of Tamás Kaszás and Anikó Loránt

An essay by Reassembling the Natural Co-Principal Investigator Anna-Sophie Springer in the exhibition catalog for Hungarian artist Tamás Kaszás and the ex-artists’ collective, Exercises in Autonomy, ed. Joanna Sokolowska. Lodz: Museum Sztuki w Lodzi, 2017. 164–78 (Polish & English).

Fantasies of the Library

Times Literary Supplement Review

A lovely little review of Fantasties of the Library (MIT Press, 2016), edited by Reassembling the Natural Co-Principal Investigators Anna-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin, by Gill Partington in the TLS (18 January 2017): 33.

CeNak Announces Funding for Verschwindende Vermächtnisse

The German Federal Cultural Foundation (KSB) funds the exhibition cycle Disappearing Legacies: The World as Forest, with a sum of €237.000. The KSB supports for the first time a major multi-disciplinary exhibition which will be realized at the Centrum für Naturkunde, in cooperation with the Schering Stiftung.

The exhibition is curated by Reassembling the Natural Principal Co-Investigators Anna-Sophie Springer and Dr. Etienne Turpin, bringing together works by contemporary artists with natural history specimens and field research in connection with tropical collections. The exhibition aims to make sense of the becoming and disappearing of species and the impact of the human on natural systems. The 19th-century perspective of the naturalist-collector Alfred Russel Wallace will be juxtaposed with contemporary works assessing environmental change and land use transformation.

Haus der Kulturen der Welt Announces intercalations 03 & 04

In 2017, HKW und K. Verlag continue their collaboration within the publication series intercalations: paginated exhibition with two volumes:

Reverse Hallucinations in the Archipelago reflects on the changing role of colonial natural history collections in the current ecological crisis. The book brings together positions that tell how the theory of evolution emerged alongside a concern regarding mass extinctions and how the exposure of scientists to the tropical becoming challenged the scientific will to knowledge.

The Word for World Is Still Forest takes its title from Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1972-novella, curating an homage to the forest as a turbulent, interconnected, multinature. The volume moves from concepts of the forest as a thinking organism to the linear monocultural plantations that now threaten the life of global forests.

Contributors include Sandra Bartoli, George Beccaloni, Kevin Beiler, Shannon Castleman, Iwank Celenk, Lucy Davis, Matthias Glaubrecht, Dan Handel, Katie Holten, Radjawali Irendra, Geraldine Juarez, Eduardo Kohn, Silvan Linden, Yanni Loukissas, Abel Rodriguez, James Russell, Mark von Schlegell & Slave Pianos, Suzanne Simard, Anna-Sophie Springer, Zenzi Suhadi, Paulo Tavares, Rachel Thompson, Etienne Turpin, and Satrio Wicaksono.

The Parameterization of Life on Earth

Lecture, Curtin University, Australia

From 28–30 November, the geo- Symposium brings together a select number of established and emerging scholars who are, in different ways, leading reflection on the significance or the problem of the Earth for understanding posthumanity, culture and technology. In its explorations of the cultural and conceptual dimensions to our planetary condition, geo- will test the capacity for humanities-based inquiry to stake a place within not only ecology and environmentalism, but perhaps also within the earth sciences more generally. Together with Nigel Clark, Sean Cubitt, Thom van Dooren, Matthew Kearnes, Peta Mitchell, Stephen Muecke, Chris Russill, and Isabelle Stengers, Reassembling the Natural Principal Co-Investigator Etienne Turpin is one of these invited speakers.

Is the City a Laboratory?

video installation at the Centre for Contemporary Art Signapore

With more than half the world’s population living in urban settlements, cities have become a defining force of the Anthropocene. The two-channel video installation Is the City a Laboratory? produced by Reassembling the Natural Principal Co-Investigator Dr. Etienne Turpin as part of an ongoing research project on urban experimentation, uses itinerant ethnography as a means to generate collaborative design briefs for platform infrastructures. How has experimentation produced cities? How, in turn, have urban labs, architects, designers, and artists created experimental and collective practices that repurpose urbanization toward other futures? The videos include footage from interviews, field work, and research related to the development of the Urban Lab Network Asia (, a platform for coordination, investigation, and collaboration.

Curating Environmental Imaginaries

a Roundtable at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Ispra, Italy

With the aim to consider how creative interventions can unlock new ways of thinking about our relationship to the environment and our political agency within it, the workshop A Year Without A Winter: Fictions and Policy (organized by Dehlia Hannah, Cynthia Selin, and Angela Pereira) interrogates narratives of climate and climate change emerging in the context of the arts and transdisciplinary scholarship. As an invited panelist to the Roundtable ”Curating Environmental Imaginaries“ on 17 November, Co-Principal Investigator Anna-Sophie Springer will introduce Reassembling the Natural, exemplifying some of the project’s core concerns and strategies. Also presenting at this Roundtable are Ken Eklund, Jacob Lillemose, and Carolina Sobecka.

Shapeshifting Fact & Fiction

a workshop at the Institut Kunst, Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Basel

Led by Reassembling the Natural Co-Principal Investigator Anna-Sophie Springer, this workshop will unfold through a series of traversals through the archives of institutions that collect cultural material—books, artworks, artifacts, and scientific specimens. We will understand how these institutions organize what is considered knowledge and explore strategies and practices with which we can activate and connect these spaces in ways in which they are not normally viewed by dominant, colonial cultures. In this process, we will critically interrogate books, exhibitions, archives, and collections, attending to how they record and disseminate knowledge, experimenting along the way with cross-overs, shape-shifting, fact and fiction.

Computation Rules Everything Around Me

MIT Lecture

Intangible infrastructures.
Nonorganic vitalities.
Software aesthetics.
Digital solidarities.
Human machines.
Technical debts.
Bot torrents.

Through a survey of recent design projects from anexact office,, and, Reassembling the Natural Principal Co-Investigator Etienne Turpin will argue in the lecture for an interventive disposition toward the parametrization of life on earth.

Can the Anthropocene be Exhibited?

Exploratorium Lecture

How can museums and other cultural institutions better address the increasing volatility and vulnerability of the Earth system? How can museums facilitate observation of the human impact on planetary systems and make observation a truly public enterprise? Join moderator Jason Groves, architect Sara Dean, and Reassembling the Natural Principal Co-Investigator Etienne Turpin at the Exploratorium for a wide-ranging discussion of contemporary aesthetic, curatorial, and archival strategies for learning to see this rupture in the Earth’s history

LabVerde Workshop

Generously funded by a Goethe-Institut Research Travel Grant for Curators, in September Reassembling the Natural Principal Co-Investigator Anna-Sophie Springer will travel to Manaus, Brazil in order to participate in the LabVerde workshop exploring contemporary environmental issues of Amazonia and the Rio Negro. As part of the week’s presentations she will introduce the main concepts of Reassembling the Natural to the group in a public lecture during the workshop’s final seminar.

Fantasies of the Library — Released on MIT Press

Fantasies of the Library, edited by Reassembling the Natural Principal Co-Investigators
Anna-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin, has been released on MIT Press.

Anxious Instantiations


An essay in response to Isabell Lorey & David Lyon’s Anxious to Secure
keynote conversation at transmediale
by Anna-Sophie Springer & Etienne Turpin

Necroaesthetics: Denaturalising the Collection


by Anna-Sophie Springer & Etienne Turpin L’internationals Online, No. 3 “Ecologising Museums,” July 2016.

Vestiges of 125,660 Specimens of Natural History

Photo Essay

by Anna-Sophie Springer & Etienne Turpin
Stedelijk Studies, No. 04 “Between the Immersive and the Discursive: Curating Research in 21st-Century Art Museums,” July 2016.

Necroaesthetics: Life & Death of Natural History

a workshop at ECAL Lausanne

by Anna-Sophie Springer & Etienne Turpin
as part of the curatorial lab “Theatre, Garden, Bestiary: A Materialist History of Exhibitions” organized by Vincent Normand & Tristan Garcia

Filtering the Anthropocene: A Visual Montage as Proxy


by Anna-Sophie Springer for the Anthropocene Curriculum, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.

Few Straight Lines in a Forest: A Ligneous Constellation

Goldsmiths Lecture

by Anna-Sophie Springer in response to Dr Paulo Tavares in the Visual Culture Department’s 10th-anniversary lecture series, “Permissions: The Way We Work Now.”

Art in the Anthropocene Released

Art in the Anthropocene:
Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies
edited by Heather Davis & Etienne Turpin
Open Humanities Press
June 2015

Taking as its premise that the proposed geologic epoch of the Anthropocene is necessarily an aesthetic event, this book explores the relationship between contemporary art and knowledge production in an era of ecological crisis, with contributions from artists, curators, theorists and activists. Contributors include Amy Balkin, Ursula Biemann, Amanda Boetzkes, Lindsay Bremner, Joshua Clover & Juliana Spahr, Heather Davis, Sara Dean, Elizabeth Ellsworth & Jamie Kruse (smudge studio), Irmgard Emmelhainz, Anselm Franke, Peter Galison, Fabien Giraud, & Ida Soulard, Laurent Gutierrez & Valérie Portefaix (MAP Office), Terike Haapoja & Laura Gustafsson, Laura Hall, Ilana Halperin, Donna Haraway & Martha Kenney, Ho Tzu Nyen, Bruno Latour, Jeffrey Malecki, Mary Mattingly, Mixrice (Cho Jieun & Yang Chulmo), Natasha Myers, Jean-Luc Nancy & John Paul Ricco, Vincent Normand, Richard Pell & Emily Kutil, Tomas Saraceno, Sasha Engelmann & Bronislaw Szerszynski, Ada Smailbegovic, Karolina Sobecka, Richard Streitmatter-Tran & Vi Le, Anna-Sophie Springer, Sylvère Lotringer, Peter Sloterdijk, Zoe Todd, Etienne Turpin, Pinar Yoldas, and Una Chaudhuri, Fritz Ertl, Oliver Kellhammer & Marina Zurkow.

The World in Which We Occur

Lecture for Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius

Prototype event with Etienne Turpin, Rory Rowan, and Nabil Ahmed
Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius
Vilnius, Lithuania

A prototype of the event was organized by the CAC as part of a likeminded series titled Pharmacokinetics of an Element in November 2014, in the context of one of the pilot exhibitions of the XII Baltic Triennial, Prototypes. The event focused on the global climate change debate classifying our era and its wide ranging consequences.

Stratigraphy & Urbanism

a dialogue between Simon Price (British Geological Survey)
& Etienne Turpin (
A Matter Theatre
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Berlin Germany

What is the geological character of a city? Excavating and analyzing the subsurface zone of the urban landscape, the applied geoscientist Simon Price establishes an underground morphology of anthropic centers. His dialogue partner, philosopher and urban researcher Dr Etienne Turpin, advocates “a geologic turn in architecture,” promoting a more speculative, multidisciplinary, and activist research practice at the intersection of the urban, the environmental, and the political. Comparing their empirical fieldwork, this dialogue traces the methods and practices that inform approaches to the city as both an archival assembly of the Anthropocene as well as the ground for politicized architectural theory.

As the pair discuss the porophilia of geoscientists, subterranean infrastructures, the poropolitics of the undercommons, and the ethics of underground research, their comments about Buddhist geologists from Mars are made in reference to Bronislaw Szerszynski’s brilliant performance and accompanying text: “Liberation Through Hearing in the Planetary Transition: Funerary Practices in Twenty-Second-Century Mangalayana Buddhism,” published in Grain Vapor Ray.

Botanical Hack Berlin

a workshop with Stefania Druga (HacKIDemia)
& Etienne Turpin (
A Matter Theatre
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Berlin Germany

Urban land reclamation for food production requires the development of accessible research tools to help assess and map soil properties. The network HacKIDemia develops DIY soil sensors to enable communities to plan and plant civic gardens and at the same time analyze and monitor potential sites for growing consumable plants. This demonstration consists of a collaborative assembly process co-developed by Stefania Druga (HacKIDemia) and Reassembling the Natural Principal Co-Investigator Dr. Etienne Turpin. This applied research, with a student research team, results in public proposition in the form of a group report: a detailed park-to-garden proposal to the HKW audience.