Adventures in Bioperversity: Unpacking KOTF
written by Olivia Desjardins, AAC Curatorial and Exhibitions Intern
“If I were King of the Forest…I’d command each thing, be it fish or fowl…As I’d click my heel, all the trees would kneel. And the mountains bow and the bulls kowtow. And the sparrow would take wing – If I – If I – were King!” The Wizard of Oz 1939
While The Wizard of Oz is a favorite the world over, this innocent quote stands as the cornerstone of the concept of our latest exhibition.
On view until April 3 King of the Forest: Adventures in Bioperversity, highlights the interaction between humans and animals, and explores the effect of human species-privileging, or speciesism, on the animal kingdom.
Activists and philosophers defined speciesism in the 1970s in reference to discrimination, including cruelty and exploitation of non-human animals. Now in the 21st Century, this idea encompasses the broader manner in which the Industrial Revolution, human population growth, technological advances, and ecological disasters have led to a general disconnect from and disregard of animals and their habitats.
In KOTF you’ll experience work by 13 contemporary artists who examine the way consumerist culture, pursuit of control, and human dominance have affected the natural world – which has been pretty significant, to say the least…
Did you know that fossils tell stories? Yeah, apparently geological eras are defined by the fossils found in the different layers of rock covering the Earth’s surface.
Geologists, aka rock scientists, measure the age of the Earth based on the story of what happened during a specific period of time in the history and pre-history of our planet. Technically speaking, we’re currently in the Holocene epoch: the Recent age.
For nearly a decade scientists in the geological community have been debating on whether or not humanity is actually in a new era: the Anthropocene, the age of Humans. It is believed that the constant need for humans to take command of all things has pushed us into an era of our own making.
Anthropocene, while not yet formally a geological time-period, has become a popular term indicating the current era, and is defined by the “many geologically significant conditions and processes are profoundly altered by human activities.”
Watch this video to learn more about the Anthropocene
It is known that all things effect the environment in some way, but due to substantial human activity, the environment has never changed so quickly. Most agree that human activity is the leading cause of global warming.
Resident Artist Rachel Schmidt whose show Daydreams in the Anthropocene, on view in the Wyatt Resident Artists Gallery, discusses the ideas that coincide with a new human-shaped geological age.
Many of the works in KOTF examine animal extinction, species loss, and lack of safeguards for our ecosystems. Studies from the last decade seem to suggest that the extinction rate is 55 times higher in this new era, than when before humans existed.
Humans are driving these changes, and the sad thing is, we know we are the leaders of this change and we aren’t doing much about it.” Journalist Dan Grossman has been questioning and writing about why humans aren’t making an effort to slow down change. He asks, “Why aren’t we doing anything about global warming?”
From these examples you can see that people in different industries and professions are asking questions about what humans are doing to our planet. Like these artists, scientists, and journalists, do you see the world around you changing? Are you convinced that we are entering a new geological era? If so, KOTF is a must see!