Longitudes

Longitudes cuts across Latitudes’ projects and research with news, updates, and reportage.

Research project ‘Naming, possessing Critique of taxonomic practice’ by Agustín Ortiz Herrera, Barcelona Producció 2019–2020

Photo: Agustín Ortiz Herrera

Naming nature and taxonomizing it effectively was a priority for the emerging modern science emanating from the Age of Enlightenment. In its global epistemological conception, plant species from colonial explorations were catalogued in honour of white men of Western culture. At the same time, the cultivation of many of these plants was introduced into the streets and gardens of European cities, while the first botanical institutions were created.

As part of Agustín Ortiz Herrera's project ‘Naming, possessing Critique of taxonomic practice’, awarded the research grant Barcelona Producció 2019-2020 from La Capella (and one of the three projects mentored by Latitudes), and organised in collaboration with Hangar's Fictions of Dis-order program, Ortiz Herrera presents a series of guided tours and reading sessions where queer strategies will be questioning the narratives agreed upon by the modern scientific construct, introducing a decolonial narrative, and thus unveiling the secrets of plant species such as Sparrmannia, Washingtonia or Tulbaghia.


‘The colonial garden. Deconstructing the narratives of modern taxonomy’

Activity: Urban Route around the streets of Poblenou
Date: Friday 23 October 2020, 6–7:30 pm
Ortiz Herrera invites us to join him on a tour that aims to bring to light forgotten episodes in the development of botanical knowledge during the modern project while experimenting with queer/cuir confrontation strategies.
Meeting place to be confirmed. Participants will be notified.
Capacity: 20 people. 
Booking essential: [email protected]

Activity: Guided tour of the Barcelona Botanical Gardens
Date: Saturday 24 October 2020,11.30–13:30 am
During this second dérive, historical events will be explained using a methodology of situated knowledge that exposes the scale of the strategy of the cabinet of curiosities in botanical gardens.
Meeting place to be confirmed. Participants will be notified.
Capacity: 20 people. 
Booking essential: [email protected]

Activity: Modern Nature: a tribute to Derek Jarman
Date: Thursday 5 November 2020, 6–8 pm
Location: Hangar (Sala Ricson)
Reading group and discussion around Derek Jarman’s book Modern Nature. We will also be talking about Jarman’s film The Garden (1990) and his design for his garden at Prospect Cottage in the south-east of England.
Capacity: 40 people. 
Booking essential: https://forms.gle/4MQQXy72SwBxpV6V7
Organised by Hangar. With the support of Caja Negra Editorial.

Agustín Ortiz Herrera (Barcelona, 1970) works between moving image and performance. He studied Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona (1998), film-making in New York (2003) and obtained an MA in Fine Arts at the Konstfack College of Arts, Stockholm (2016). Recent exhibitions include Oblivion at K.R.O.P.P., Uppsala Konsert & Kongress, Uppsala (2019), Konst tar plats at Österbybruk, Sweden (2018), Potenciación a largo plazo at Paratext 24, Hangar, Barcelona (2017) and El umbral de primavera, Madrid (2018). He is currently resident at Hangar – Visual Arts Production and Research Centre in Barcelona.

Co-produced in the context of 
the “Fictions of Dis-order” programme of Hangar's  Research and Transfer of Knowledges activities.


Agustín Ortiz Herrera, Laboratori de Natura, Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona, Video Still, 2020.


Agustín Ortiz Herrera
To Name, To Own. Critique of Taxonomic Practice
Research Project
Barcelona Producció 2019–2020

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Agustín Ortiz Herrera’s research project To Name, To Own. Critique of Taxonomic Practice focuses on taxonomy and the modern classification system for natural species developed by Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778). Linnaeus’s most notable contribution to science was his invention of a system of binomial nomenclature for naming organisms. For example, the two-term name Homo sapiens describes the only living species of the genus Homo: humans. This convention became universally accepted and the nested hierarchy became quickly consolidated as the dominant cognitive basis of the Western worldview of nature.1 Linnaeus’s 1735 volume Systema Naturae not only classified the natural world, it also gendered it and thereby conditioned an understanding of natural history as a highly patriarchal structure. This condition has transcended science and come to dominate other fields of culture and knowledge.2

Ortiz has carried out his research in botanical collections, academic centres, and libraries specialising in Linnaeus’s scientific work located in Uppsala, Sweden (where Linnaeus ultimately became rector of the city’s university) and London (where the world’s oldest active biological society, The Linnean Society of London, was established in 1788).3 Honouring the Society’s motto “Naturae Discere Mores” (To Learn the Ways of Nature), Ortiz furthermore connects Linnaeus’s legacy with two key nodes of research in Spain: the Gabinet Salvador at the Botanical Institute of Barcelona and the former Museum of Zoology in Barcelona’s Ciutadella Park.4 In doing so he aims to bring taxonomic paradigms into the present and to critique them against recent and emerging post-human, queer, feminist and decolonial theories.5

Taking up Teresa Castro’s call for “queering nature” and “queering botanics”, Ortiz’s research refuses the anthropocentric and dualistic conception that has separated humans from non-humans in order to go beyond the constraints of Western exceptionalism and its colonising grip.6 Castro has identified a “plant turn” in current fields of knowledge and creation, where philosophers including Emanuele Coccia are inviting us to think about and with vegetation or fungi and to consider herbivorous or fungal relations and non-hierarchical modes of being. Such an approach chimes with the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s call for “decolonising thought” and to contest the hierarchical relationships between “our” thoughts and those of others.7

Another important point of Ortiz’s research has been foregrounding the scientific work of Lynn Margulis (1938–2011), the unorthodox scientist whose theories around evolution and symbiosis were often mocked and ignored by the male establishment for appearing to contradict Charles Darwin’s dogma of natural selection. As a proponent of the endosymbiotic theory, Margulis posited that simple life forms merged, forming cell organelles, like mitochondria. Life, she believed, is a symbiotic and cooperative union that allows those who associate to succeed, a theory that later has been widely accepted and substantiated.

Ortiz’s research introduces queer epistemologies through a series of gatherings, an urban walking tour and a collective reading. The first will be a two-hour guided tour around Poblenou to identify and discuss plant taxonomy and its colonial provenance. A similar tour will take place the following day in Montjuïc’s Botanical Garden, where Agustín will lead a discussion within the framework of a man-made “natural” environment.

A third activity, developed in collaboration with Hangar – Visual Arts Production and Research Centre in Barcelona as part of its Fictions of Dis-order programme, will consist of a collective reading of Derek Jarman’s Modern Nature. Published in 1991, this biography is a diary of the British film-maker, artist and activist on his late years at Prospect Cottage, on the arid Kent coast in south-east England. Jarman purchased this fisherman’s house in Dungeness in 1986 shortly after being diagnosed as HIV positive, with the aim of withdrawing in the years before his death (in 1994). The now-iconic black timber cottage with yolk yellow window frames is overlooked by the imposing Dungeness nuclear power station and surrounded by a vast shingle beach and a noteworthy garden, the boundaries of which he described as the horizon.

— Latitudes


1 Linnaeus was the first to use it consistently throughout his book, although the system now known as binomial nomenclature was partially developed by the brothers Gaspard and Johann Bauhin 200 years earlier.

2 Linnaeus published 12 editions of Systema Naturae during his lifetime. The 10th edition from 1758 is considered the starting point of zoological nomenclature.

3 Sir James Edward Smith purchased Linnaeus’s botanical, zoological and library collections for 1,000 guineas to found The Linnean Society of London in 1788. It was at a meeting of the Society in 1858 that papers from Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace outlining the theory of evolution by natural selection were first presented. https://www.linnean.org

4 The Salvador family were a dynasty of apothecaries and naturalists from Barcelona that between the 17th and 19th centuries collected over 14,000 specimens. The Gabinet Salvador is the most important example of a Cabinet of Curiosities or wunderkammer in the country, a presentation format which predates the invention of the modern museum and the separation between the sciences and the humanities. https://museuciencies.cat/es/area-cientifica/colecciones/coleccion-salvador/

5 With its origins in the 17th century, the Gabinet Salvador includes the oldest known herbarium in Spain, as well as books, documents, collections of molluscs, fossils, and stuffed animals. The Zoology Museum of Barcelona was located in the Modernista building known as the ‘Castle of the Three Dragons’ between 1920 and 2010 when it was relocated and changed its name to Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona (Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona, aka the ‘Museu Blau’).

6 Teresa Castro, The Mediated Plant, e-flux Journal #102, September 2019, https://www.e-flux.com/journal/102/283819/the-mediated-plant/

7 Emanuele Coccia, The Life of Plants: A Metaphysics of Mixture, Polity Press, 2018.

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Video of Latitudes' lecture "Curating in the Web of Life" at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow


Curating in the Web of Lifeis in a 1-hour-long lecture presented on November 7, 2019, at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, in the context of their group exhibition ‘The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100. It is in English and a Q+A follows. You can also watch it with Russian translation (voice-over). 

 Latitudes during the lecture ‘Curating in the Web of Life’. Photo: Anton Donikov. © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.

In the lecture, Latitudes discuss how Modern art and modernist art history largely assented to the ontological and epistemological lie which imagined humanity and the humanities making their own history by themselves, while hiding the fact that their productions, relations, and economy were always teeming with biophysical processes. The increasing violence by which the limits of the planet, its feedback loops and tipping points, are forcing themselves into world events has profound consequences for how we narrate (art) history and curate exhibitions in the web of life.


Max Andrews of Latitudes during the lecture ‘Curating in the Web of Life’. Photo: Anton Donikov. © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.
Mariana Cánepa Luna of Latitudes during the lecture ‘Curating in the Web of Life’. Photo: Anton Donikov. © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.
 
New disciplines are broaching the separation between human activities and Earth systems – environmental law, political ecology, ecological economics, and so on. Likewise, what is at issue when artists, curators, exhibitions, and museums venture into new formations and shared rather than adjacent perspectives? What is at stake in a curatorial ecology, an environmental art history, or in integrating socio-natural processes into an institution’s account of itself, and so on? Turning to a world-systems approach as well as the insights of micro-history, Max Andrews & Mariana Cánepa Luna presented a series of curatorial and artistic perspectives on such questions, drawing from “uncomfortable objects” and “dishonest research” [1] across their exhibitions “4.543 billion. The matter of matter” ( CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux 2017–18), ‘Hemauer Keller: United Alternative Energies’ (Kunsthal Aarhus, 2011), “Greenwashing. Environment: Perils, Promises and Perplexities” (Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, 2008) and related projects such as the residency programme “Geologic Time” (Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, 2017).

[1] “Uncomfortable objects” is a notion borrowed from artist Mariana Castillo Deball, and “dishonest research” from artist Mercedes Azpilicueta.


Latitudes during the lecture ‘Curating in the Web of Life’. Photo: Anton Donikov. © Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

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Report: Trip to Chicago and Detroit in pictures, 18–25 September 2019

Good morning Chicago!

As we shared in our recent newsletter, in mid-September we had the opportunity to visit Chicago and Detroit, thanks to an invitation from Stephanie Cristello, Artistic Director of EXPO Chicago, who we met last year during the 2018 Amsterdam Art Weekend. As participants of the inaugural collaboration between EXPO CHICAGO and Red Bull Arts Detroit Global Curatorial Initiativea smaller selection of participants had the opportunity to extend their trip to Detroit (21-23 September), in an effort to foster dialogue with the greater Midwest.


18 September 2019: Visiting the Chicago Cultural Center (photo above), the main venue of ‘And Other Such Stories’ the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial curated by Yesomi Umolu, Sepake Angiama and Paulo Tavares. Personal highlights: works by Forensic Architecture, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Theaster Gates, Vincent Meessen, performances by Jimmy Robert, Alexandra Pirici, and the powerful collaboration between the Settler-Colonial City Project and the American Indian Centre. In the afternoon, we visited the Art Institute Chicago and attended a performance by Samson Young at the Chicago Symphony Center.


(Above and below) Museum of Oil— The American Rooms by Territorial Agency on display in the Chicago Cultural Center's Exhibit Hall.
(Above) Work by Oscar Tuazon.
(Above) Work by Clemens von Wedemeyer. 

(Above and below) Room with works by Theaster Gates and Vincent Meessen.
(Above) Works by Wendelien van Oldenborgh (left) and Do Ho Suh (right).
(Above) Movimento Sem Teto do Centro (MSTC) fights on behalf of families experiencing homelessness.
One of the examples of the impactful collaboration between the Settler-Colonial City Project and the American Indian Centre.

The American Indian Centre also contributed with a Land Acknowledgement.
 Performance ‘Descendance du nu (Chicago)’ by Jimmy Robert.

 ‘Re-collection’, 2018–ongoing, a performance by Alexandra Pirici situated in the Grand Army of the Republic Rotunda of the Chicago Cultural Center, a memorial to Civil War veterans.
(Above and three below) ‘In a Cloud, in a Wall, in a Chair: Six Modernist in Mexico at Midcentury’ at the Art Institute Chicago, exploring the impact Mexico had on the lives and artistic practices of Clara Porset, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, Cynthia Sargent, and Sheila Hicks. 
Also at the Art Institute Chicago we were surprised to see that this work by Andrés Jaque on Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona pavilion that recently entered the collection. Can't help to think such work should have been acquired by a Spanish collection, not to mention a Barcelona collecting institution?
A great exhibition with very few photographs by Sara Deraedt at Art Institute Chicago. Since 2008 the artist has been photographing vacuum cleaners as she encounters them in places where they are sold. 
The Flax project started in 2012 by Dutch artist Christien Meindertsma.
Before Samson Young's performance and Q&A at the Chicago Symphony Center.

19 September 2019: Morning session at the Graham Foundation. But first, stop at their beautiful bookstore and their current show by Tatiana Bilbao. In the afternoon, we visited EXPO CHICAGO until we got fair exhaustion and later caught Abraham Cruzvillegas' impressive solo show at The Arts Club of Chicago.

Marking the commencement of the 2019 Curatorial Exchange and Curatorial Forum was a keynote lecture by Artistic Director Zoe Butt from The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in Ho Chi Minh City.
Mid-morning tour around EXPO CHICAGO.

One of the best stands was this presentation by Brazilian gallery Bergamin & Gomide, an art and architecture atlas of modernist and contemporary Brazil. Curated by Sol Camacho.
“In/Situ” section curated by Jacob Fabricius (artistic director of the Kunsthal Aarhus in Denmark) around EXPO CHICAGO.

We caught ourselves in this picture by Casa Bosques browsing at books in the Index Art Book Fair. 
(Above and below) Solo show ‘The Ballad of Etc.’ by Abraham Cruzvillegas at The Arts Club of Chicago.

20 September 2019: On our last day in Chicago, we joined closed-door presentations by the  2019 Curatorial Exchange participants, moderated by Art Institute Dittmer Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Hendrik Folkerts (Above). Later we attended a lunch at EXPO CHICAGO, and in the afternoon took off with a couple of colleagues, to enjoy the impressive wealth of exhibition-centres the University of Chicago campus has to offer: the Logan Center, The Renaissance Society, the SMART Museum, the Oriental Institute, and the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society.

Above: Assemble and Duval Timothy in collaboration with Demond Melancon and the Material Institute, New Orleans, an exhibition at the Logan Center, The University of Chicago.
 (Above and below) LaToya Ruby Frazer's "The Last Cruze" at The Renaissance Society also in The University of Chicago campus. 
 (Above and two below) Michael Rakowitz's work in one of the galleries of the Oriental Institute also in The University of Chicago campus.
(Above and below) Frederick C. Robie House, aka The Robie House, a landmark building by Frank Lloyd Wright on 5757 S Woodlawn Ave, in the University of Chicago campus.
(Above) Exhibition by Martha Rosler at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society (also in The University of Chicago campus) centred primarily on her interest in flowers, gardens, and related “green” motifs. 
(Above and two below) "Samson Young: Silver Moon or Golden Star, which will you buy of me?" at the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago campus.

University of Chicago campus.
In the evening, we attended the opening of the solo exhibition by Vienna-based artist Sarah Ortmeyer at the project space Chicago Manual Style, curated by Stephanie Cristello, artistic director of Expo Chicago. Latitudes collaborated with Ortmeyer in the 2011 exhibition ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs...’ at Meessen de Clercq, Brussels.

One of the outdoors installations at the MBAD African Bead Museum, Detroit.

21 September 2019: Upon arriving in Detroit in the afternoon, our local host Scott Campbell took us to visit the MBAD African Bead Museum, 18 outdoor installations using iron, rock, wood and mirrors by visual storyteller Olayami Dabls on the corner of Grand River and West Grand Blvd, Detroit. (above and three below)



22 September 2019: (Above and 8 photos below) Morning tour by Laura Mott, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art and Design, and curator of the exhibition ‘Landlord Colors: On Art, Economy, and Materiality’ at the Cranbrook Art Museum. "Materiality, a large-scale exhibition and public engagement series that brings together artworks from five international art scenes that have experienced economic and societal upheaval: Italy (the 1960s-80s), Korea (1970s-80s), Cuba (1990s–present), Greece (2009-present), Detroit, USA (1967-present). The exhibition showcases the work of more than 60 artists from a wide variety of backgrounds to highlight shared themes of ingenuity, resourcefulness, and resistance highlighting seminal historic works and new work from contemporary artists such as Reynier Leyva Novo, Zoë Paul, Kostis Velonis, Matthew Angelo Harrison, and Scott Hocking."

Matthew Angelo Harrison, ‘Dark Povera Part 1’, 2017.
Two chairs by Olayami Dabls of the Dabls’ MBAD African Bead Museum.

Afternoon visiting Red Bull Arts Detroit studio and gallery space. We are taken around their current show ‘Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time: Against Capitalism’s Temporal Bullying’ by the Red Bull Arts Detroit Curatorial Fellow Taraneh Fazeli.
Anders Ruhwald’s installation occupies an entire apartment in Detroit’s Eastern Market neighbourhood. 
In the afternoon we had time to squeeze in a visit to The Heidelberg Projectin the McDougall-Hunt neighbourhood on Detroit's east side. (Above and 10 below) Since 1986 artist Tyree Guyton (1955) has progressively transformed vacant houses and lots on Heidelberg street into one large outdoor installation. Guyton's "grotesque materialism" project is one of the most visited sites in Detroit, attracting 200,000 visitors annually.



23 September 2019: Morning studio visit with artist Matthew Angelo Harrison (no photos), and pm appointment with Executive Director Elysia Borowy-Reeder and current
Ford Curatorial Fellows Jova Lynne and Tiziana Baldenebro of The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, which was in between shows. MOCAD is the keeper of Mike Kelley's ‘Mobile Homestead’"located on the grounds of the museum, it is a full-scale replica of the home in which Kelley grew up: a single-story, ranch-style house in the Detroit suburb of Westland. Kelley, who died in Los Angeles in 2012, sought to ensure that the Mobile Homestead remain relevant to the cultural interests and concerns of its local communities. In that spirit, the home was designed with a detachable facade, allowing it to be driven to neighbourhoods throughout the city, offering public services during its travels."



The official programme finished and we had time to visit the Michigan building on 220 Bagley Avenue (above and two below) which was designed for Detroit philanthropist and movie theatre tycoon John H. Kunsky. It opened in August 1926 with the film "You Never Know Women" with Florence Vidor and Lowell Sherman, and could seat over 4,000 people who enjoyed a programme of five shows daily. It hosted live performances by The Marx Brothers, Betty Grable and Bob Hope, and many others. The theatre was built on the site of the small garage where automobile industrialist Henry Ford built his first automobile, the quadricycle (the garage was later disassembled and moved to The Henry Ford Museum in the nearby suburb of Dearborn). It closed in 1976 after operating as a nightclub named The Michigan Palace. In 1977 the building's owners paid $525,000 to gut the theatre and build a three-level, 160-space parking deck inside it. The site of Ford Motor's birthplace replaced by a movie theatre, reclaimed by the automobile.


Evening walk to see Canada on the other side of the river.

24 September 2019: (Above and below) On our last day, we visited the Detroit Institute of Arts, home to Diego Rivera murals and an impressive 19th and 20th Century collection. The "Detroit Industry" murals (1932-1933) were conceived by Diego Rivera (1886-1957) as a tribute to the city's manufacturing base and labour force of the 1930s. Rivera completed it in 11 months and was paid a 20,000 U$ fee. Rivera's murals show the automobile manufacturing process, Coaltulicue (the Aztec goddess of creation and war), the production of the 1932 Ford V-8, personnel involved in the industry as well as managers and Henry Ford, giving all of them equal stature.


Our last expedition was to John K. King Used & Rare Books on 901 W Lafayette Blvd, holding over a million books in stock. No computer search, just browsing.


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