Departing from Elizabeth Kolbert's recent piece in the New Yorker, "How to Write About a Vanishing World," in this seminar we will read and discuss a variety of different genre texts dealing with our relationships to nonhuman worlds in the current context of climate disruption and extinction. Moving from the depth of the ocean through the soil to above the ground and ultimately into the canopy of trees, where the wind blows, we will explore how various authors and visual artists embrace and produce different emotional registers in their work and to what effect. To this end, the seminar will also include a hike through a nearby forest.
13 – 16 November 2018
14 – 17 November 2017
In one of the galleries of Basel's Museum of Pharmaceutical History we find an early twentieth-century print depicting the immense variety of derivative carbon chains that are released in the process of burning hard coal for energy consumption. The centerpiece of the illustration visualizing this organic chemistry network is a large tree with a massive trunk and a huge, lushly green canopy—a veritable symbol of life, health, and stability. Along one of its branches run all the carbon chains used to produce aspirin while another branch symbolizes those chemical chains that enabled the development of synthetic dyes in the late nineteenth century. In the background of the tree we see a panorama of factories and smoking chimneys. Departing from the story of this "Carbon Tree" image, in this week-long seminar we will research the history of carbon capitalism in Basel and explore what possible alternatives are proposed in the city today. The goal of the seminar is to develop a set of timely interventions in the narrative displayed at the Museum, which hasn't been changed since 1931.
18 May 2017
This year's Ph.D. seminar is focused on strategies of “publication." Here, the main guiding questions are how to make research (in art and design) public? And how can media such as the book, the library, and the exhibition be mobilized as research tools in this process? On 18 May 2017 I will present some of my recent publishing work as one of the seminar's external guests speakers.
28 – 31 March 2017
Using the new intercalations publication, The Word for World is Still Forest, as a starting point, my 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.
8 – 11 November 2016
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.
Fall semester 2015
Mondays, 4 pm – 6:30 pm EST
With regards to the meaning of collecting, collections, and curatorial practice, classes will consist of readings, lectures, and discussions about thematic and visual strategies. An introductory contextualization to the history of exhibitions is provided through excerpted readings of seminal texts. We ask: What does the Anthropocene thesis imply for museums and the collections they contain? How do environmental and geopolitical concerns transform traditional exhibition practice? And, what is the potential of curatorial-editorial agency for alternative forms of collecting and presenting in the Anthropocene? The goal is to examine such exhibition and publication projects that have confronted the entangled legacies of institutional collections in order to illuminate and compare how exhibitions communicate different concerns through a variety of media presented in spatial constellations.
28 – 29 November 2015
MiST Theatre, CCT Building
University of Toronto Mississauga
Offering a curatorial perspective on the Anthropocene, Anna-Sophie Springer's presentation "A Palimpsest of Species & Spaces" takes its point of departure from the juxtaposition of two drawings. First, the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt's panoramic map of the Andes, from 1851, showing a set of steep mountains covered with strata of different types of green forest, rock, and ice; second, American artist Mark Dion's colour pencil work Anthropocene Monument, from 2014, with its compacted pylon of mineral and fossil resources and anthropogenic soil. While the former image is one of the earliest modern cartographic representations of geology and botany as understood in relation to geography and climatic zones, rendering visible for Western science nature as a complex system, the latter schematically depicts the long-term impact of a single species—our own—within the geological subsoil of the planet. Arguing that current matters in natural history are more messy than either of these layered images seems to suggest, Springer will discuss her current research and previous exhibitions and publications which have engaged a complex spectrum of species and spaces to create possible affective and conceptual affinities beyond representation, provoking instead new concepts for increasingly turbulent times.