2010 Multispecies Salon: Curatorial SWARM

The swarm is a network with no center to dictate order. It involves a multitude of different creative agents. Collective intelligence emerges in the swarm through communication and cooperation. Swarming has been the tactic, rather than the theme, of our exhibit. In New Orleans the core of our curatorial swarm involved Myrtle Von Damitz lll (New Orleans), Marnia Johnston (Rubys Clay Studio, San Francisco), Nina Nichols (The Black Forest Fancies, New Orleans), Amy Jenkins, and Eben Kirksey (CUNY Graduate Center, New York). We also drew on the creative impulses of Karen Kern from the Arts Council of New Orleans. Christopher Newman, Patricia Alvarez, and Craig Schuetze--all who have ties to UC Santa Cruz--have been working to produce a multimedia film and digital media project about the Multispecies Salon since the 2008 exhibit in San Francisco. Nick Shapiro (University of Oxford) helped coordinate a multitude of visiting anthropologists who became para-ethnographers, art critics of sorts, who helped document the 2010 events in New Orleans.

In New Orleans over 70 artists addressed a series of interrelated questions about nature: Which species flourish, and which fail, when natural and cultural worlds intermingle and collide? What happens when the bodies of organisms, and even entire ecosystems, are brought into schemes of biotechnology and dreams of biocapitalism? And finally, with particular relevance to New Orleans: In the aftermath of disaster--in a blasted landscape that has been transformed by multiple catastrophes--what are the possibilities of biocultural hope?




Karen Bolinder (NM)


Panacea Theriac (New Orleans, LA)






Lubber Grasshopper Kabob


Michelle Basta (New Orleans, LA)


Insects and Edibles Feast


Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata (Austin, TX)


Michelle Basta (New Orleans, LA)