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Shrinking and Other Acts of Sabotage
An illustrated lecture with Petra Lange-Berndt, University College London
Date: Thursday, July 28th
Time: 8:00 PM
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
Taxidermy is quite literally the incarnation of trophy culture; It is no coincidence that the 19th Century craze for taxidermy coincided with the emergence of the biological sciences, which were, themselves, strongly tied to colonial interests of exploration, exploitation, classification, and reorganization of the world.
Today, this violent story -- as well as the bulk of 19th Century decorative taxidermy, such as heads on shields, armchairs made out of whole bears, elephant footstools or lamp bases adorned with birds of paradise -- are largely absent from public collections and their institutionalized narratives. Also problematic for the serious student of the medium is that, like art conservators or the editors of texts, taxidermists are only successful if there is no visible trace of their work left in the final product.
Tonight's presentation by Petra Lange-Berndt, author of Animal Art: Specimens in Modern and Contemporary Art Practices, 1850-2000, will chase the stories that are woven into the textures of taxidermy by focusing on the fabrication of the nature/cultures in question, and by asking such questions as what kind of politics are attached to these stilled lifes? And how have the power relations encountered in public natural history collections been challenged by modern and contemporary artists?
Petra Lange-Berndt is a lecturer at the Department of History of Art, University College of London. She has published a book in German on Animal Art: Specimens in Modern and Contemporary Art Practices, 1850-2000 (Silke Schreiber, 2009) and just organised a conference on "Taxidermy and Colonial Practice" at the Natural History Museum, London. She likes all kinds of unpopular arts and B-cultures and was co-curator of an exhibition in three parts on "Sigmar Polke: We Petty Bourgeois! The 1970s" at the Kunsthalle in Hamburg (2009-10); her new research is concerned with artists' colonies and communes.Photo: Photo from Natural History Museum of Nantes (France), by Julie N. Hascoët
Living Dolls: The Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata at the Morris Museum
A live automata demonstration and illustrated lecture by Jere Ryder, Conservator of the Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata at the Morris Museum
Date: Friday, July 29th
Time: 8:00 PM
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
The Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey is one of the finest collections of automata--or moving mechanical toys popular in the 18th Century and 19th Centuries--in the world. Compiled over 50 years by heir to the Guinness beer fortune Murtogh D. Guinness (1913-2002), the collection features scores of immaculately preserved historic automata--many of them produced in 19th Century France--with subjects ranging from snake charmers to magicians, singing birds to anthropomorphic monkeys, Cleopatra in her death throes to a waltz-playing Mephistopheles; it also includes a number of mechanical musical instruments and a variety of programmed media ranging from player piano rolls to pinned cylinders.
Earlier this year, Observatory brought a group to visit this collection in person; for those of you who were unable to join us--or who are hungry more!--we are bringing the automata closer to home. Tonight, we invite you to join Jere Ryder, Conservator of the Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata at the Morris Museum, for a live demonstration of antique automata drawn from both the Guinness Collection and his own personal collection. Mr. Ryder will detail the history of these bewitching toys with an illustrated lecture on their history, show an introductory video, and demonstrate and describe the mechanics that bring them to life.
Bio: As Conservator of the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata, Jere Ryder brings a lifetime of involvement within this specialized field. A keen interest developed after being introduced to them by collector parents, whom Mr. Guinness had encountered in the 1950s. He became a family friend, and served as mentor and inspiration for later study within the field. With no specialized teaching institutions dedicated to this particular realm, it was Jere's father, Hughes M. Ryder, who introduced he and his brother to major European families, collections and related museums, assisting his ability to enter into studies/apprenticeships to surviving, established field masters, modern manufacturers and successors of original firms dating to as early as 1800. Throughout junior high and high school he received objects for repair from regional dealers and distributors. He and his brother Stephen created a business partnership in 1973 and since have repaired, restored, appraised and advised for some of the finest collections, acquiring objects on behalf of state and privately-owned museums worldwide, and are internationally renowned for research projects and the ability to source rare instruments offering new paths of study.Image: “Mechanical Singing Bird Jardiniere,” made by the firm of Bontems, Paris, France, circa 1880 & recently restored
Monday, July 25, 2011
Morbid Anatomy Presents This Week at Observatory: Taxidermy and Antique Automata Live and in Person!
Hope to see you there!