Reassembling the Natural is an ongoing exhibition-led inquiry into the “necroaesthetics” of contemporary natural history led by Principal Co-Investigators Anna-Sophie Springer and Dr Etienne Turpin. The project combines ethnographic research, field work, archival study, and art-science collaboration in order to convene together and curate scientists, artists, and theorists from the Americas, Europe, Amazonia, and Nusantara for a sustained conversation about the future of “natural history” on Earth. The project takes as its objective a serious, transdisciplinary review of the concept of nature—including its role within the knowledge infrastructure of the sciences, its elaborate housing of myths and cultural heritage, and its consistent place within the arts and humanities—in the context of our accelerating planetary extinction. How can those fields of inquiry through which nature came to be shared, studied, and conserved in human cultures begin to reassemble knowledges among the fragmented worlds threatened by anthropogenic transformation? How can new forms of inquiry and collaboration begin to unground the assumptions of knowledge, futurity, and security which limit the discourse of our contemporary environmental crisis? How can we reassemble and exhibit an exemplary plea for a reconsideration of the natural and its vital role in visual culture, design, science and beyond?
To productively collide with the present crisis, ideas cannot be constrained by disciplines. To date, research for this project has been displayed publicly in the major exhibition 125.660 Spesimen Sejarah Alam [125,660 Specimens of Natural History], which debuted in August 2015 at the contemporary arts center Komunitas Salihara in Jakarta, Indonesia, in partnership with the Indonesian Institute of Science. A second German exhibition cycle, Verschwindende Vermächtnisse: Die Welt als Wald [Disappearing Legacies: The World as Forest], will open at the Centrum für Naturkunde, Universität Hamburg, in October 2017; travel to Tieranatomisches Theater, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in Summer 2018; and, then complete the cycle at Zentralmagazin Naturwissenschaftlicher Sammlungen, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg in October 2018. Verschwindende Vermächtnisse is a cooperation with the Schering Stiftung and funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.
The project aims to intervene in a range of exigent discourses, including those among the visual arts, environmental humanities, sustainable design, science and technology studies, extinction studies, and the major scientific and cultural debate of a generation—the Anthropocene.