• Hortus Politicus

    — a Master's seminar and public talk in the "Ways of World-Making" lecture series at Design Academy Eindhoven

    Having prepared back in February for a two-day, in-person visit to Eindhoven in March, I was pleased to engage with the MA students from DAE through an online seminar and subsequent public lecture. Within the pandemic circumstances of physical distancing and newly exposed perversities of supply chain capitalism, my talk "Herbarium Politicum" on the inherently political character of seeds, soils, and gardens was now more timely than expected: with a virus reminding us of biological connectedness and shared (albeit asymmetrical) vulnerability it seems that many urbanites otherwise not reliant on subsistence agriculture have recently taken up planting vegetables and/or gardening— whether as a welcome pastime while sheltered at home or as more conscious method towards a decelerated awareness for life's becoming. Reflecting on the prison gardens of political prisoners, as well as slaves, as spaces of care and survival suddenly took on an uncanny, quotidian resonance—beyond their otherwise particular and incomparable histories embedded in systemic violence and inequality. I thank Tim Roerig for the kind invitation and perfect organization as well as all attendants for their participation and feedback.

  • A Forest for the World & The Book as Forest

    — a two-day seminar with students from the architecture, design, and art degree programs of Institut Kunst, Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Basel

    While forest fires have been raging in Amazonia, Indonesia, the Arctic, and many other regions, my two-day seminar will focus on the archetypal role of plants for life on earth. We will discuss the concept of the "forest" philosophically and biologically as a concept for multiplicity, diversity, and reciprocity. Unpacking the meaning of the "Anthropocene" as a species concept with limited ability to capture the capitalist-extractivist dynamics that have produced the current ecological crisis, we will explore alternative terminologies centering specifically on human-plant relations—including the "Plantationocene" as suggested by Donna Haraway, Jason Moore, and Anna Tsing and the "Planthroposcene" as suggested by Natasha Myers and colleagues. Throughout the seminar, we will counterpoint our theoretical work with examinations of curatorial, editorial, artistic, and writerly methodologies dealing with our subject matter in a manner of lived, ethico-aesthetic practices.

  • Radical Terrestrial

    —a one-week seminar with BFA students at the Institut Kunst, Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Basel

    I'll be returning once again to the final year BFA students of the Art Institute, Basel. Last session, some in the group found they had heard enough now about the eco crisis. My plan this time then is to try focusing and bridging more profoundly the political-economic dimension of nature and the ways in which climate breakdown currently drives contemporary politics internationally. On the reading list: Naomi Klein, Bruno Latour, Geoff Mann, Alexis Shotwell, and others. Looking forward!

  • How to Write About Vanishing Worlds

    — a one-week seminar with BFA students at the Institut Kunst, Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Basel

    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.

  • Uprooting the Carbon Tree

    —a one-week seminar with BFA students at the Institut Kunst, Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Basel

    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.

  • On Making Research Public

    — invited guest lecture in the Ph.D. Seminar at EnsadLAb / Ecole nationale supérieure des Arts décoratifs, Paris

    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.

  • World as Forest

    —a week's seminar with BFA students at the Institut Kunst, Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Basel

    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.

  • Shapeshifting Fact & Fabulation

    —a week's workshop with BFA students at the Institut Kunst, Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Basel

    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.

  • Entangled Legacies: Institutional Collections & Curatorial-Editorial Agency

    —a weekly postgraduate seminar at the New Centre for Research & Practice, thenewcentre.org

    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.

  • Running with Concepts: The Geologic Edition

    —invited mentorship & lecture in the two-day postgraduate workshop organized by Christine Shaw, Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto, Canada

    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.

  • Advanced Readings in Curatorial Studies (VIS 3002H)

    —in the Visual Studies Master's program, at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto