Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Recently Announced Morbid Anatomy Presents Events at Observatory for October and November!

Radiolab-related parasite film! Observatory's 2nd Annual Day of the Dead party! Pathology collections from Amsterdam! Forgotten surrealist film featuring mannequins with thematic after-party! Centuries of visions of the brain!

Full details for these recently announced events follow; Hope to see you at one or more of these wonderful presentations!

Also, if anyone out there might like to be considered as a volunteer at future Morbid Anatomy Presents events in exchange for free admission and an endless cup of wine, please contact me at morbidanatomy@gmail.com.
“Parasites: A User’s Guide:”
A Short Film Screening with Filmmaker and Ecologist Sharon Shattuck, Radiolab Affiliate
Date: Tuesday, October 26
Time: 8:00
Admission: $5

The word “parasite” comes with loads of vile connotations, but in nature, nothing is purely good or evil. In the 27-minute experimental documentary “Parasites: A User’s Guide,” filmmaker Sharon Shattuck embarks on a journey to decode some of the most misunderstood creatures on earth.

The dramatic rise in autoimmune diseases, asthma, and allergies since the turn of the last century has confounded scientists, but some researchers think they have uncovered the key to controlling the skyrocketing rates: tiny parasitic worms called ‘helminths.’ Using a blend of handmade and digital animation, film, and music, Sharon dives headlong into the controversial discourse surrounding ‘helminthic therapy,’ with help from scientific researchers, proactive patients and a renegade entrepreneur named Jasper Lawrence. Through the seeming oxymoron of the ‘helpful parasite,’ Sharon questions the nature of our relationship with parasites–and suggests a new paradigm for the future. “Parasites: A User’s Guide” is a film about ecology, healing, and worms.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker and an active helminth patient.

Check out the film’s website for more info: www.parasites-film.com

Bio: Before moving to Brooklyn, Sharon Shattuck studied tropical botany, and worked as a researcher with the Field Museum and the Smithsonian Institute in Panama. Following a grad stint in documentary media, she now works as an animator with Wicked Delicate Films (producers of “King Corn,” 2007) in Brooklyn, and is a contributor to the WNYC science show ‘Radiolab.’ Now, Sharon is touring the mainstream film fest circuit with her quirky science film “Parasites: A User’s Guide,” demonstrating that science can be both informative AND entertaining.

Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) Party
Admission: $5
Date: Sunday, October 31st
Time: 5 PM - ?
Please R.S.V.P. to salvador.olguin@gmail.com for party planning purposes.

Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated annually in Mexico during the last days of October and the first days of November. It is a party to honor the dearly departed by presenting offerings to them, building an altar, and inviting them to reunite with the living in a nightly feast including their favorite dishes and drinks. It has deep roots in ancient, pre-Hispanic celebrations, but it also integrates the Christian traditions brought to the country by the Spanish –the main celebration takes place on November 2nd, coinciding with All Saints Day.

On Sunday, October 31th, and for the second year in a row, Morbid Anatomy and Observatory will host a Day of the Dead party in tandem with author and scholar Salvador Olguin. This year, we will build an altar dedicated to the Economy. Traditionally, the Day of the Dead altar is dedicated to a person whose death is deeply felt by the people building it; in spite of some hopeful reports by some cheerful voices, our global Economy does not seem to be recovering quickly enough from its recent collapse. This year, we will bring her some offerings, attract her with a few bottles of tequila, and lure her back to the realm of the living with the fragrant smell of incense and marigolds. Feel free to collaborate with our altar building by bringing objects that express how deeply felt the departure of the Economy was for you and your close ones. We want to entice the ghost of the Economy to walk again among the living, to come back from the afterworld and celebrate with us, Mexican style.

Many of this year’s features are based in the art of Jose Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican printer and illustrator who worked around the time of the Mexican Revolution (1910), and who used his art to satirize prominent figures of his era. His best-known works are his calaveras (skulls), etchings depicting dancing skeletons, skulls dressed up as Revolucionarios and politicians, etc. Since this November we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, it felt natural to honor Posada by having a live version of one of his most famous calaveras: La Catrina. Made by Posada as a depiction of the skeleton of a rich lady, La Catrina has come to represent a satirical version of Death herself in Mexico. At our party, La Catrina will mingle with our guests, and people will be able to have their picture taken with her, in front of our altar.

At this year’s Dia De Muertos party, you will also find pan de muerto, champurrado (a traditional Mexican beverage), sugar skulls, marigolds, Negra Modelo, traditional foods and crafts, a community altar, a piñata of death herself to dash to bits, live traditional music, a death themed slide show produced by Morbid Anatomy, and, of course, Redhook vendors taco truck supplying delicious and authentic foodstuffs. If you would like to dress appropriately for the occasion, you only need to take an old suit or dress, or wear the clothes of a person whose death means something for you, or simply wear your everyday clothes: everything works, as long as you add a touch of the hereafter to it –some make up to look a little pale, a skeleton suit, some dirt under your fingernails. Or you can go all the way and dress up like one of Posada’s Calaveras.

We hope you can join us! Feliz Dia de Muertos!

Salvador Olguin’s work has been published in magazines both in Mexico and in the US. He is the author of Seven Days, a multimedia theatrical piece that celebrates the convergence of traditions and hybridism that characterizes Mexico’s fascination with mortality. He has worked extensively with Mexican cultural artifacts related with death. He is currently performing research on the metaphoric uses of prostheses in literature and the visual arts, at New York University, as well as writing poems about the life of plants and the genealogy of intelligent machines. He was born in Monterrey, Mexico and is currently based in Brooklyn.

Come and See: The Amsterdam Anatomical Collection Dissected
An illustrated lecture and book signing with Dr. Laurens de Rooy, Curator of the Museum Vrolik in Amsterdam
Date: Thursday, November 11
Time: 8:00
Admission: $5

Books will be available for sale and signing.

Two skeletons of dwarfs, rare Siamese twins, cyclops and sirens, dozens of pathologically deformed bones, the giant skull of a grown man with hydrocephalus, the skeleton of the lion once owned by king Louis Napoleon, as well as the organs of a babirusa, Tasmanian devil and tree kangaroo – rare animals that died in the Amsterdam zoo ‘Artis’ shortly before their dissection.

Counting more than five thousand preparations and specimens, the Museum Vrolikianum, the private collection of father Gerard (1775-1859) and his son Willem Vrolik (1801-1863), was an amazing object of interest one hundred and fifty years ago. In the 1840s and 50s this museum, established in Gerard’s stately mansion on the river Amstel, grew into a famous collection that attracted admiring scientists from both the Netherlands and abroad.

After the Vrolik era, the museum was expanded with new collections by succeeding anatomists. What motivated the Vroliks and their successors to collect all these anatomical specimens, skulls, skeletons, and monstrosities? were did their material come from? How did these collections help to built up their views on the origins of life forms?

Since 1984 the museum is located in the academic Hospital of the University of Amsterdam. Recently the museum collections were portrayed by the photographer Hans van den Bogaard for the book Forces of Form. These images will form an essential part in this talk, a ‘dissection’ of the Amsterdam anatomical collection.

Dr. Laurens de Rooy (b. 1974) works as a curator of the Museum Vrolik in the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam. He studie Medical Biology, specializing in the history of science and museology. during his internship he researched the collection of father and son Vrolik. In 2009 he obtained his PhD in medical history.

Screening: Hans Richter’s “Dreams That Money Can Buy” and “Ghosts Before Breakfast”
A screening of Hans Richter’s 1947 surrealist film “Dreams that Money can Buy,” introduced by filmmaker Ronni Thomas and followed by a thematic after party
Date: Saturday, November 13th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $8

Tonight, join filmmaker Ronni Thomas as he presents a screening of the rarely shown and grossly unknown 1947 dada/surrealist film “Dreams That Money Can Buy.” The film was the brainchild of surrealist Hans Richter and features segments produced in collaboration with some of the great surrealists of the day including Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Max Ernst and John Cage. Though experimental, the film does have a narrative; the overarching story is a loosely film noir-styled story about a ‘dream detective’ and his various clientèle. This narrative structure makes the film more accessible than many experimental films, with elements of fantasy, science fiction, crime and horror which give the film a real driving edge. The film is a clear influence on filmmakers such as David Cronenburg, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and David Lynch.

There will be a short introduction to the film by Thomas followed by a thematic after party with specialty drinks and music.Thomas will also screen Richter’s short film “Ghosts Before Breakfast” before the feature film.

Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century
An illustrated lecture and book signing with Carl Schoonover, author of Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century
Date: Thursday, November 18
Time: 8:00
Admission: $5

Books will be available for sale and signing.

Tonight author Carl Schoonover will discuss his new book Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century (Abrams). Join us for a fascinating exploration of the brain through images. These beautiful black-and-white and vibrantly colored images, many resembling abstract art, are employed daily by scientists around the world, but most have never before been seen by the general public. From medieval sketches and 19th-century drawings by the founder of modern neuroscience to images produced using state-of-the-art techniques, we are invited to witness the fantastic networks in the brain. The result is a peek at the mind’s innermost workings, helping us to understand, and offering clues about what may lie ahead. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Carl Schoonover graduated from Harvard College in 2006 with a degree in philosophy and is currently a doctoral student in Neurobiology and Behavior at Columbia University Medical Center. He has written on neuroscience for the general public in such publications as Le Figaro, Commentaire, and LiveScience. In 2008 he cofounded NeuWrite, a collaborative working group for scientists, writers, and those in between. He hosts the radio show Wednesday Morning Classical on WCKR 89.9 FM, which focuses on opera, classical music, and their relationship to the brain.
You can find out more about these events on the Observatory website by clicking here. You can get directions to Observatory--which is next door to the Morbid Anatomy Library (more on that here)--by clicking here. You can find out more about Observatory here, join our mailing list by clicking here, and join us on Facebook by clicking here.

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