Friday, April 16, 2010

"The Congress for Curious People," Epic 2-Day Symposium Begins Tomorrow!!!

Click on image or here to download full-sized broadside as seen above. Prints up to 11 X 17.

Morbid Anatomy and Observatory are pleased to present, in conjunction with the Coney Island Museum, "The Congress for Curious People!"

Tomorrow, Saturday April 17th, our 2-day open-to-the public conference will begin at 11:00 AM at the Coney Island Museum. The conference will examine, in a series of thematic panel sessions, curiosity and curiosities broadly considered. Participants will include artist/collector Joe Coleman, the Freakatorium's Johnny Fox, author of Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy Melissa Milgrom, curator of the incomparable Dream Anatomy Mike Sappol, author of Weird and Wonderful: The Dime Museum in America Andrea Stulman Dennett and Obscura Antiques and Oddities' Evan Michelson and Mike Zohn. See below for full details and schedule.

Also on view will be the "Collectors Cabinet"on view for the entirety of the event, showcasing astounding objects held in private collections, and, at partner space Observatory, "The Secret Museum," an exhibition exploring the poetics of hidden, untouched and curious collections from around the world in photographs and artifacts.

Full details follow: Hope very, very much to see you there!!!

Date: Saturday April 17th and Sunday April 18th
Location: Coney Island Museum, 1208 Surf Ave. Brooklyn ADMISSION: $25 for full weekend admission
Presented by Morbid Anatomy and Observatory with Coney Island USA
The Congress for Curious People is a 2-day symposium exploring education and spectacle, collectors of curiosities, historical fairground displays and more, in conjunction with The Coney Island Museum. The symposium will feature panels of humanities scholars discussing with the audience the intricacies of collecting, the history of ethnographic display, the interface of spectacle and education, and the politics of bodily display in the amusement parks, museums, and fairs of the Western world. Also on view in the museum will be "The Collector's Cabinet," an installation of astounding artifacts held in private collections. In conjunction with the events at the Coney Island Museum, Observatory's Gallery space will host "The Secret Museum," an exhibition exploring the poetics of hidden, untouched and curious collections from around the world.

The Congress for Curious People will serve as an academic counterpoint to Coney Island's Congress of Curious Peoples, which Coney Island USA has convened since 2007 at Sideshows by the Seashore. In the past, the Congress has included performances by artists like Joe Coleman and Harley Newman, feats of strength, and world-record breaking attempts, among others. You can find out more about the Congress of Curious Peoples at

Saturday, April 17th 11 AM-12:30 PM – Education and Spectacle in 19th and 20th Century Amusements, Lectures and Panel Discussion
Eva Åhrén, author of Death, Modernity, and the Body : Sweden 1870-1940
Andrea Stulman Dennett, author of Weird and Wonderful: The Dime Museum in America
Amy Herzog, author of Dreams of Difference, Songs of the Same: The Musical Moment in Film
Kathy Maher, Executive Director of the Barnum Museum
Moderated by Betsy Bradley, New York Public Library

LUNCH 2-3:30 PM– Cabinets of Curiosity: Collecting Curiosities in the 21st Century, Lectures and Panel Discussion
Joe Coleman, collector and artistLink
Johnny Fox, collector, performer, founder of The Freakatorium
Evan Michelson, Antique and Oddity Dealer, Obscura Antiques and Oddities and Morbid Anatomy Library scholar in residence
Melissa Milgrom, author of Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy
Mike Zohn, Antique and Oddity Dealer, Obscura Antiques and Oddities
Moderated by Aaron Beebe, Director of the Coney Island Museum

4-5:30 PM – Freaks and Monsters: The Politics of Bodily Display, Lectures and Panel Discussion
Mike Chemers, author of Staging Stigma: A Critical History of the American Freak Show
Nadja Durbach, author of Spectacle of Deformity: Freak Shows and Modern British Culture
Michael Sappol, Historian of the National Library of Medicine and author of A Traffic of Dead Bodies: Anatomy and Embodied Social Identity in Nineteenth-Century America
Moderated by Jennifer Miller, Bearded Lady and founder of Circus Amok

6-8 PM Drinks and light fare

Sunday, April 18th 12-2 PM – A History of Cultural Display in World’s Fairs and Sideshows, Lectures and Panel Discussion
Lucian Gomoll, University of California at Santa Cruz
Alison Griffiths, author of Wondrous Difference: Cinema, Anthropology, and Turn of the Century Visual Culture
Barbara Mathé, Archivist, American Museum of Natural History
Moderated by Aaron Glass, author of The Totem Pole: An Intercultural Biography and In Search of the Hamat’sa: A Tale of Headhunting

2 PM – Closing remarks


The Secret Museum
An exhibition exploring the poetics of hidden, untouched and curious collections from around the world in photographs and artifacts, by Joanna Ebenstein, co-founder of Observatory and creator of Morbid Anatomy.
Location: Observatory
Opening Party: Saturday, April 10, 7-10; on view On view from April 10th-May 16th, 3-6 Thursday and Friday, 12-6 Saturday and Sunday
Admission: Free

The Collectors Cabinet
An exhibition which will showcase astounding objects held in private collections, including artifacts featured in Joanna Ebenstein's Private Cabinet photo series of 2009. Featured cabinetists include Curious Expeditions and Observatory's Michelle Enemark and Dylan Thuras, Obscura Antiques and Oddities, and Morbid Anatomy and Observatory's Joanna Ebenstein.
LOCATION: * Coney Island Museum, Brooklyn

Image: "Femme à Barbe, Musée Orfila.Courtesy of Paris Descartes University.

To find out more about this event and the larger Congress of Curious Peoples, and to get directions, click here. For more about the Congress for Curious People, click here. Click on image or click here to download a hi-res copy of the above broadside.

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