Museum Futures No. 2: Beyond the Vitrine, Across the Street and With the Security Guard

The second issue of Museum Futures, Beyond the Vitrine, Across the Street and With the Security Guard, is a collection of essays, artworks and stories exploring the overlooked and varied spaces of the contemporary museum. We asked contributors to question what museums could and should be and to consider how practices outside of museum culture inform its present and future.

Postcard from Sara Velas
Postcard from Sara Velas

Museum of Post Natural History, Richard Pell
Museum of Post Natural History, Richard Pell

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Treasures of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Angie Jennings
Treasures of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Angie Jennings
Image: Sara Velas
Image: Sara Velas

Vali and the Tale of Gomma the Oil Plume King

Drawing inspiration from young adult dystopian fiction, Vali and the Tale of Gomma the Oil Plume King tells the story of a genderqueer girl named Vali and a group of teenage clans that live below the surface of Hunter’s Point. One day Vali sees a huge plume of smoke rising from a nearby factory that threatens to decimate the annual crop of wild edibles. As Vali gets closer to the truth, she discovers more than she’d like to know.

Developed for Chance Ecologies, a platform for artistic gestures and research projects exploring the un-designed landscapes and wilderness found in abandoned spaces, post-industrial sites, and landfills.
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The Almost Island

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The Almost Island is a coloring book exploring the forgotten histories of Hunter’s Point South in Queens, NY from the perspective of the land itself; a transformation from salt marsh to bustling transportation hub, from rewilded forest to luxury housing development. In an 1882 historical account of Queens County*, Hunter’s Point is described as “almost an island, bounded on the north by a ditch on the salt meadow, to the south by Newtown Creek, and west by the East River.” During high tide a small island emerged where sea captain George Hunter once maintained an active homestead. As the tidal waters receded, oyster reefs and rock edifice revealed. Although the land has undergone a number of transformations it still remains almost an island connected to the East River’s tidal pulse and daily estuarial flow. *History of Queens County by W. W. Munsell, 1882, pp. 258-328

An Atlas of Endangered Surfaces


An Atlas of Endangered Surfaces identifies and categorizes a range anthropogenic, naturally occurring, and hybrid surfaces in the area known as Hunter’s Point South in Long Island City, Queens. In collaboration with artist Ellie Irons, the project is a part of Chance Ecologies, a platform for documenting, learning from, and commemorating naturally occurring ecosystems in NYC and articulating contemporary readings of and new forms of relating to (urban) wilderness.

The site chosen for the first iteration of the project, Hunter’s Point South, has a long and sordid history. The land was once an “almost-island” surrounded by a great salt marsh, transformed into an active homestead in the mid 1800s, industrialized at the turn of the 20 Century, and then left dormant for the past 20 years. In the wake of constant redevelopment a lush rewilded landscape has emerged; a thick forest bordering the East River, and a prairie like ecosystem growing at the heart of the site. In a matter of months the site is destined to be “redeveloped” into 11 high density luxury condominiums, redefining an already gentrified Queens waterfront.

The Atlas was created in the months before the current transformation of Hunter’s Point South began, when the overlaps, edges and frictions between man-made park infrastructure and long re-wilded landscapes of Hunter’s Point South were still intact. It provides a comparative study between the spontaneous, un-designed spaces of the former Hunter’s Point, and the textures and structures that will take its place as redevelopment and gentrification continue.

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A collection of surfaces from each place was archived through a four month investigation exploring trails, paths and desire lines built by consensus and those defined by park design (taking the form of photographs, videos, rubbings and physical samples). A novel classification system was created to accommodate hybridized and newly identified surfaces — evidence of historical and ecological transformations that a soil sample, archeological dig, or plant identification alone could not provide. For instance, taxonomic distinctions like “Impervious Landfill Rubble” (see p. 11) identify a specific kind of transitional construction debri that defined the perimeter of the site. The collection of brick, cement chunks, sidewalk wreckage, and other composite materials point to the site’s history, ecological reclamation, and a literal/metaphoric process of weatherization and decay. This category in particular is one that will be locally extinct when the redevelopment of Hunter’s Point South is complete.

As unassuming as these surfaces may appear, they nonetheless offer a glimpse into the ongoing transformation reshaping New York City, and places like it. The surfaces act as vital touchstone, an exterior skin, a bio-cultural indicator of urban decay, supposed renewal, and waves of gentrification yet to come.

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Surface Samples (Radiator Gallery, Long Island City, December 2015)

Rooderal Lab

A movement-research collaboration with Eva Perrotta and Corinne Cappelletti, and DE-CONSTRUKT [projeckts]. As the first in a three part laboratory dedicated to understanding the life, function and characteristics of the wild plants in Red Hook Brooklyn, we explored the detoxification capacities of dandelion. Each lab is framed by pairing ruderal plants with a particular body function to experiment, play, and re-connect with ecological systems in the urban environment. The lab led participants through a series of experiences through which movement and embodied response offered new kinetic understandings of the neighborhood, the body and plants we often consider “weeds”.

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I Don’t Do Boxes: Act Out!

In collaboration with the Queer People of Color Collective, the third issue of I Don’t Do Boxes explores the politics of activism, resistance, and performance with a range of essays, articles, and artworks from queer-identifying youth and individuals from around the country.

I Don’t Do Boxes is a magazine exploring LGBTQ experience, published at Elsewhere and edited by a team of queer-identifying youth.

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IDDB Act Out Cover1-01

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Above Middle Below

Above Middle and Below is a three-part laboratory dedicated to formulating ideas for an Open Movement score through collaboration facilitated by Leila Mougoui Bakhitiari (urban ecologist), Christopher Kennedy (teaching artist), Athena Kokoronis (choreographer), and Jan Mun (artist-scientist). Part One is dedicated to presenting and mapping Fort Greene Park’s social and ecological relationships. Part Two focuses on formulating and performing in an Open Movement score. Part Three is dedicated to conversation and archiving our collaboration together. Co-led by Athena Kokoronis, Chris Kennedy, Leila Mougoui Bakhtiari, and Jan Mun on May 17 in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn.

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StoryBank

StoryBank is a platform for sharing and collecting stories. StoryBank was originally created at Elsewhere museum in Greensboro, NC alongside a residency with Nick Szuberla of Appalshop, a Kentucky-based arts and education center in the heart of Appalachia. The storyteller machine (pictured below) was collaboratively designed by Elsewhere’s curatorial team allowing participants to record and type stories, which are deposited into the StoryBank vault – a digital archive that explores a range of site-specific themes. It is also designed to travel and provide story collecting and digital archiving support for community groups and local social justice campaigns.

The StoryBank was recently installed at the Levine Museum of the New South‘s exhibit: Gay America from Kinsey to Stonewall opening tomorrow evening in Charlotte, NC. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to interact with the StoryBank to deposit and withdraw stories in response to works throughout the exhibition and share personal experiences related to gender and/or sexual identity. Stories will be uploaded to the StoryBank’s online archive and featured in a special edition of I Don’t Do Boxes, a magazine exploring LGBTQ experience. The exhibit is organized by the Stonewall National Museum & Archives as part of its mission to collect, preserve and disseminate materials related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture. Thanks to everyone at the Levine for making this possible! For more info visit: http://www.museumofthenewsouth.org/exhibits/detail/?ExhibitId=127

Visit http://teller.goelsewhere.org/ to deposit a story.

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I Don’t Do Boxes: Out Loud!

The second issue of I Don’t Do Boxes, Out Loud!, brings together a diverse collection of stories, poems, artworks and sounds exploring LGBTQ experience. This issue invited queer youth, musicians and artists to explore the power of voice in different ways. An accompanying compilation of music, sounds and recordings offer listeners everything from raucous punk anthems, to ambient noise experiments, queer oral histories, and queer-hop beats. Listen closely and you may hear yourself through the intimate stories shared.

Out Loud! was edited and produced by a team of queer-identifying youth and community members at Elsewhere museum including: Peter Muniz, Bradley Durham, Megan Denton, Alyzza May, Brent Simoneaux, April Parker, Hillary Johnson, Morgan Beatty, Allen Moore, Peter Pendergrass, Kaye Hayes, Damon Shelton, Valerie Wiseman, Niina Cochran + Chris Kennedy.

I Don’t Do Boxes is a magazine exploring LGBTQ experience, published at Elsewhere and edited by a team of queer-identifying youth.

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Then & Now: Sharing LGBTQ stories across generations

Then & Now is a documentary storytelling project inviting LGBTQ-identifying elders and teens to share stories and oral histories. A collaboration with Elsewhere and the Creative Aging Network of North Carolina.

What was it like living in the south and identifying as LGBTQ? What is that experience like now? The project is inviting youth and elders to interview each other about their experience of living in the south and identifying as LGBTQ. We’re hoping to foster relationships across generations and create an oral history archive and resource for North Carolina and the Triad community. The interviews will be used to create a short documentary that will be screened in Greensboro and submitted to the Greensboro Public Library and local universities as a public and ongoing archive of LGBTQ experience in the south.

Then & Now Trailer

Edited by Lia Miller

Anti-Discrimination Week proclamation, Durham, NC (1986)
Anti-Discrimination Week proclamation, Durham, NC (1986)
Statement of Lesbian and Gay Pride, Durham, NC (1986)
Statement of Lesbian and Gay Pride, Durham, NC (1986)

Below are some sample video interviews from a short film called Intersections created by visiting artist Emilio Rojas during his residency at Elsewhere in 2012:

 

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Solar Energy Commons

A collaborative project with artist Elliott P. Montgomery to connect a 4.8 kW rooftop solar array on the roof of Elsewhere museum with the streets of downtown Greensboro. The final design is a public charging station called the Solar Energy Commons, which also doubles as and solar karaoke kiosk after dusk. The project also included a public programming series called Solar Potentials, exploring the politics of distributed solar electricity in the U.S.

The project was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) as part of a formula grant received by the City of Greensboro, North Carolina.

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Read-Ins

Read-Ins encourage reading in public spaces to activate possibilities for shared wisdom. The first Read-In was organized on August 8, 2012 in partnership with the International Civil Rights Museum and Elsewhere to accompany the Greensboro Historical Museum’s Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings, a traveling exhibition from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Read-In commemorated the authors of burned books, raise questions of oppression, and celebrated freedom of expression through a day-long public reading that traveled across downtown Greensboro.
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Mycological Provisions

An interview project archiving the stories of four contemporary artists while hunting for mushrooms in the summer of 2013. Participating artists include Rob Peterson, Cassie Thornton, Caroline Woolard and Kate Clark. (Research blog: mycologicalprovisions.tumblr.com) (Video Credits: Music by Quilla, Sound design by Marty O’Connor and Quilla) Sound Recordings: Rob Peterson:

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Cassie Thornton:

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Caroline Woolard:

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Kate Clark:

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The Listening Story of No Words

A movement-research collaboration with students at Dudley High School and artist Athena Kokoronis to create a site-specific dance for downtown Greensboro.

The Listening Story of No Words explores a dance process that draws inspiration from the tradition of quilt making, line drawing, personal experience and expression through movement and improv. The project was developed during a 3-week residency at Dudley High School and Elsewhere museum.

Collaborators: Angela Robinson, Athena Kokoronis, Kelley Ann Walsh, Christopher Kennedy, Anna Luisa Daigneault, Kirsten Bauer, Nakaia Branch, Amber Carter, X’Zavia Crowell, Naima Durrett, Essence McKellar, Miracle McPherson, Zoey Plum, Nasaura Richard, Ashleigh Robinson, Jackie Stackhouse, Jala Tillman, Hawa Trawally, Donjeta Vila, Toine Woodard

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highwaterline action guide

ecoartspace action guides are a platform for artists addressing environmental issues. Each guide supports both learning institutions and community organizations that are interested in educating youth and adults about the principles of ecology through aesthetic experiences in the natural and built environment. Over the past several years I’ve helped developed activities and projects for 2 of these wonderful resources including Eve Mosher’s Highwaterline Guide and Tafftoo Tan’s S.O.S. Action Guide. To download each guide visit: http://ecoartspaceactionguides.blogspot.com/

Ecoartspace was founded in Los Angeles in 1997 by Patricia Watts, who partnered with Amy Lipton in New York City in 1999. They created one of the first websites that offered information on artists who, through their artworks, teach about our interdependence with the natural world. In 2000, Watts and Lipton developed an art and nature program, bringing artists into classrooms in Malibu, California, and New York City. This project was the initial inspiration to develop arts activities for both in school and in after-school programs.

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Museum Futures

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What is the connection between one woman’s 58-year collection, a nomadic assemblage of queer ephemera, a high-tech teen hangout, and the treasured remains of a fishing town?

Beginning in a lake Michigan lagoon and sustained through a trans-continental Skype conversation, Museum Futures is an interview project developed by three people with a shared investment in the dynamic ways a museum can perform. Although we often think of a museum as a static collection of objects to be kept a safe distance from, behind this seemingly impenetrable identity is a network of individual actors that have a stake in their museum’s role as a public actor. Whether it be through the vehicle of a button jar, an ipod touch or a fish trap, a museum has the potential to perform as a dynamic public commons and a place to confront the Other. In the spirit of such possibility, Museum Futures provides a glimpse into the work of educators, anthropologists, consultants, and curators who are re-thinking the performance of the museum’s past, present, and future.

Museum Futures started as a conversation between three people in different parts of the world. Presented on the previous page are some our first communicae. We identified a common interest in what museums could and should be, and decided to investigate ourselves. Over the course of a year and a half we collected interviews, essays and ephemera from museums in our own communities and those we have become a part of. Museum Futures has since become a transdisciplinary collaboration between Living Archives in San Diego, California, Elsewhere in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Institute for Empirical Cultural Science in Tübingen, Germany. Museum Futures is a project by Kate Clark (interviews/illustrations/editing), Christopher Kennedy (interviews/design/layout) and Pablo von Frankenberg (interviews/research/scholarship). Thanks to Elsewhere, University of California San Diego Visual Arts Department, the University of California San Diego Center for the Humanities and Living Archives Research group, Hermione Spriggs, and David Serlin.

DOWNLOAD MUSEUM FUTURES (PDF)

A-LIVE in the Kitchen

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Alive in the Kitchen is food performance for the internet & real life. Alive in the Kitchen re-imagines the cooking show format as a platform for participatory culinary experiments, inviting local communities, puppets, and artists to broadcast a-live from Elsewhere’s kitchen commons. A-LIVE in the Kitchen is also an educational platform for intergenerational communities to understand the importance of a balanced and locally-sourced meal, notions of radical ecology and the art of cooking through play, humor and the magic of puppetry.

PSYCHEDELICATESSEN from Elsewhere on Vimeo.

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99 Books About Love

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99 Books About Love is a project about shelving, sharing and second-hands, collecting 99 books from people all over North Carolina that explore love in its many forms. The project was an Elsewhere collaborative commission for the Ackland Museum in Chapel Hill, NC during the exhibition More Love: Art, Politics and Sharing since the 1990s. The project asked readers from the across the state to select a book about “love” in their personal collection, and inscribe each book with a personal message, poem or note. A sculptural shelving unit was designed by Elsewhere’s building curator Paul Howe to house the books which were on sale during the exhibition at the Ackland Museum Store. Proceeds from 99 Books supported Elsewhere’s QueerLab, a youth-led media project that brought together queer identifying youth to produce I Don’t Do Boxes, a publication exploring LGBTQ experiences in the South.

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QueerLab

QueerLab is a youth-led media program exploring LGBTQ experience in North Carolina. Each QueerLab session brings together an editorial team of queer identifying youth to publish I Don’t Do Boxes, and organize workshops focused on creative media production and digital storytelling.2013-CoLab-15 2013-CoLab-12 2013-CoLab-26 2013-CoLab-38 2013-CoLab-75 2013-CoLab-60 2013-CoLab-29 2013-CoLab-24
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Everyday Obsolescence

Everyday Obsolescence is a video work created during SoundLab, a youth-led media project exploring the role of technology and the everyday. The project challenged a group of high school students in Greensboro, NC to create sculptures from discarded media equipment and video self-portraits to compose an experimental score of music and sounds. The project was a collaboration with artist group INVISIBLE, (Mark Dixon and Bart Trotman) and students from Weaver Academy and Guilford College.

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School of the Future

School of the Future is an experiment in what school can be. It was the child of the Teaching Artist Union and the Institute for Applied Aesthetics. In 2010 it grew into an outdoor intergenerational free school in Brooklyn. Since then it has become an archive of lessons learned and a network of radical educators who question our current forms of education. We see learning as the most important work of an individual and a community, completely independent of any state education system.

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Groups and Spaces

Groups & Spaces is an online platform that gathers together information on people making art in groups and collaborative situations, groups that run art spaces, and independently run artist spaces and centres. The site serves as an opensource portal for artists, educators and citizens to learn more about these working methods and connect with resources in their area. The platform aims to facilitate dialogue about community engagement, collaborative practices and provide educational resources for new audiences.
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Strataspore

StrataSpore is a platform for collective knowledge about mushrooms. Initiated by Kate Cahill, Christopher Kennedy, Athena Kokoronis, Caroline Woolard, and mycologist Gary Lincoff, Strataspore uses mushrooms as material and metaphor for latent potential and unseen infrastructure. Right now, mushrooms are eating oil spills, connecting old members of Fluxus, feeding communities, and growing as alternative packaging material. Mushrooms are the pivotal orientation point for members of Strataspore to explore urban systems.

 

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