February 10, 2016

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
Rebecca Clark, Albatross, 2013, graphite and colored pencil on paper file
Rebecca Clark, Albatross, graphite and colored pencil on paper file

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.

Jonathan Monaghan, Life Tastes Good, 2010, digital video still
Jonathan Monaghan, Life Tastes Good, 2010, digital video still

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.

Henrik Sundqvist and David D’Orio, Full Circle (detail), Mirrored glass, steel, stenciled plastic plates, 2014.
Henrik Sundqvist and David D’Orio, Full Circle (detail), Mirrored glass, steel, stenciled plastic plates, 2014.

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!

See the art during our regular gallery hours (12 pm – 5 pm, Wed – Sun), and join us for an opening reception on February 20 from 6 – 9 PM. Our Resident Artists will have open studios so visitors can take a peek into what they’re working on!
Finally, if you’ve got something to say, or want to learn more firsthand, don’t miss out on our panel discussion slated for Saturday, April 2 from 1 – 4 PM!
Artists and special guests have been invited for a public discussion of their ideas about extinction, human relationships to the natural world, the Anthropocene, and the art they’ve made to express how they feel about it all.
KOTF Artists: Selin Balci | Krista Caballero | Anthony Cervino | Rebecca Clark | Lisa Crafts | David D’Orio | Joan Danziger | Frank Ekeberg | Talia Greene | Jonathan Monaghan | Lindsay Pichaske | Leslie Shellow | Henrik Sundqvist – Learn more in our KOTF: Meet the Artists post.

Global Spotlight: Video Art from Ukraine

March 16 - May 14, 2023

Experimental and Truland
Global Spotlight: Video Art from Ukraine introduces audiences to four of Ukraine’s leading contemporary artists, with a focus on recent video work.

Rebecca Rivas Rogers: Grey View

February 11 - May 14, 2023

Wyatt Resident Artists Gallery
Grey View is MoCA Arlington resident artist Rebecca Rivas Rogers‘ exuberant love letter to the color gray, a record of the abstractions, colors and textures found in America’s constructed spaces and a snapshot of the artist’s creative process.

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January 12 - April 2, 2023

Front Lawn
Bright and eye-catching, Adam Henry’s Make Your Mark celebrates the Museum’s recent rebranding and brings energy and life to the lawn space in front of MoCA Arlington’s building.