Image (detail): Plant Collection BKL – Two Machines used in the Brown Coal Ditches – 30.05.2017. Work by Camilla Berner, 2017. Courtesy of the Artist.
Camilla Berner, Andrea Callard, Lindsey french, Yvette Granata, Next Epoch Seed Library, Shuling Yuan and Ingo Vetter
Curated by Alex Young
11 March - 30 April, 2022
SixtyEight Art Institute welcomes you to our new exhibition, Ruderal Futures, organised by the American artist/curator Alex Young with artists Camilla Berner, Andrea Callard, Lindsey french, Yvette Granata, Next Epoch Seed Library, Shuling Yuan and Ingo Vetter. This ecocritical futures exhibition continues our two-year program of exhibitions, called Memoirs of Saturn that is looking into new relations between art, nature, and prosperity in a warming world.
Opening: Friday 11 March, 18:00-21:00
Location: Gothersgade 167
Ruderal Futures is an ongoing research project that articulates a manifest proposition: inherited world systems – of colonial biopower, of capitalism, of modernity – can, will, and are ending. Subsequently, from the weeds of their ruin, a new more-than-human collective ‘we’ might emerge enriched.
Adapted from urban ecology, the word ‘ruderal’ refers to plants and other life-forms that populate environments disturbed by natural phenomena and human activity. However, more broadly, the ruderal exists both within and beyond the forces of state planning and capitalism’s project of organising nature, simultaneously holding a mirror to dominant systems while pointing towards forms of resistance and utopian otherness. By order of magnitude, it is less a product of human relations with their environment than the profound alteration of the earth’s surface that results from the hierarchical systems exceeding the agency of individuals and multitudes alike. Here, the ruderal emerges as a distinct minor territory and incidental model for futurity, gleaned from the wilful omission of a holistic conception of multispecies collaboration.
This exhibition evolves from an open-ended milieu of artist-researchers engaged with ruderal ecologies, who are here gathered to address the potential of weedy others as co-creators of alter-worlds of abundance. Using this platform, their contributions evoke plausible worlds of nonhierarchical kinship from the aftermath of both historic and ongoing colonial violence and capitalist anthropogenic land use. In this sense, Ruderal Futures presents a constellation of research-based practices assembled as an anarchive of intersecting citational affinities. Together, this exhibition unfolds in a form of space and time travel, where past, present, and future encounters – once dispersed over vast terrestrial divides – coalesce into this auspicious site of germination.
For SixtyEight Art Institute, works by Camilla Berner, Andrea Callard, Lindsey french, Yvette Granata, Next Epoch Seed Library, and Shuling Yuan and Ingo Vetter span over three continents and nearly five decades–from the 1970s to today. Each artist employs means of ruderal sensing in active examination of the heterogeneity of urban life. Their contributions present creative registers or proposals addressing countless entanglements between both human and other-than-human actors. The resultant projects materialise in practices of care, receptivity, and awareness toward subaltern spaces, species, and subjectivities that reside in the margins of authority and prevailing rigid disciplinary interests. Adopting diverse media and methods of social and ecological analysis, the artists presented here are united in genuine post-disciplinary and post-medium processes of interrelation.
Via these approaches, the artists in Ruderal Futures move on from narratives of scarcity, utility, productivity, and growth that shape extractive means of tapping environmental surroundings as resources. In doing so, they expose modes of being-with-the-world that are efflorescing out of the complex and contaminated gardens of these alien commons.
by Timothy A. Schuler
"The pandemic has forced many of us to reevaluate our relationships to productivity. I’ve come to see that our cultural and aesthetic preference for landscapes that are neat and tidy is part of a larger cult of order and optimization. Weeds intrude on the narrative that we have it all together. We may not always recognize what a particular fallow period—whether an afternoon, or the interminable pause in which we currently find ourselves—is providing. But claiming time for ourselves is, itself, an act of liberation. As the artist Anne Percoco put it, 'Weeds serve their own purposes.'"
For the Next Epoch Seed Library, I’ve installed Lawn (Re)Disturbance Laboratory at two sites at Seton Hall University, in concert with the exhibition, New World Water, opening in November, and curated by Samantha Becker and Jeanne Brasile. I’ll be monitoring these sites through the fall and documenting what species grow.
“A library of invasive weeds and survivors” by Enrique Gili, for Deutsche Welle
Ellie Irons and Anne Percoco want you to rethink weeds. The artists run the Next Epoch Seed Library, a seed bank stocked with specimens from vacant lots, sidewalks, and superfund sites in the New York City area. The plants tend to get torn out or doused with herbicides—but they also help stabilize soil, suck up carbon, and keep cities cooler as the climate changes.
Wild city plants also help support pollinators like bees in urban areas—which is why the seed library is part of a new exhibit called Nectar: War upon the Bees at Pratt Manhattan Gallery.
“We’re trying to help validate and help people engage with these wild plants that are often called weeds," says Irons. "And to think about them as habitat, think about them as these really valuable parts of green infrastructure . . . that would also be beneficial for a whole suite of nonhumans, including bees.”
The Next Epoch Seed Library will be in residence at Wave Hill this January!
“I meet artist Anne Percoco outside a formidable-looking Jersey City high school, set among some of the busiest streets in the city. It’s an unlikely setting for the beginning of a nature walk, but finding wilderness amidst concrete and blaring car stereos is Percoco’s speciality.
She’s taking me to a favorite spot of hers — an abandoned commuter train line — to collect weed seeds for one of her current projects, the Next Epoch Seed Library. The project is a seed library for the Anthropocene: a collection of seeds that have proven their mettle by surviving in some of the harshest conditions humans can throw at them…”
Day of Action: Brooklyn Seed Freedom
Join us to align with the Global Movement for Seed Freedom on Swale, a first year floating food forest docked at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. We will gather in a day of action to share seeds, resources and practice seed saving methods to strengthen the seed network in the New York City bioregion. Featuring seeds saved from Swale, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Next Epoch Seed Library, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, The Old Stone House, Pioneer Works and YOU!
Bring seeds to share, and a few envelopes to harvest seeds into!
This event will launch an open-source seed library that will be based at Pioneer Works art center in Red Hook.
Swale is a collaborative floating food project built on a 130-foot by 40-foot floating platform that contains an edible forest garden. Functioning as both a sculpture and a tool, the Swale project provides free healthy food at the intersection of public art and service, reinforcing water as a commons and working towards a regenerative public food system.
Pioneer Works is a non-profit foundation in Red Hook, New York City that fosters multidisciplinary creativity in the arts and sciences.
Webpage with more details:
Chance Ecologies: Queens
A Community Partnership Exhibition Program at the Queens Museum
Curated by Catherine Grau and Nathan Kensinger
Flushing Meadows Corona Park, New York City Building
Opening reception: October 8, 2pm-4pm
Participatory workshops and public performances: October 16
Chance Ecologies Symposium: October 23
Closing Date: October 30
Milcah Bassel interviewed Ellie Irons and I for Dime and Honey, a wonderful blog about studio practice, livelihood, relationships and making meaningful contributions to culture today.
Ellie was interviewed by Ben Valentine of Hyperallergic and talked extensively about our Next Epoch Seed Library installation at William Paterson. Learn about Ellie’s work & read the whole thing here -
“Living Together” writeup on notwhatitis.com by Tracy DiTolla.
NESL “looks into preserving invasive plants, and weeds, which are most likely to continue to thrive in an environment made up of predominantly GMO plants. Viewers can take and leave seeds that are stored in a house-shaped cabinet. There is also a couch, a coffee table made of repurposed cinder blocks, various reading materials…plant specimens…and a live butterfly flying around.”
Living Together: Nurturing Nature in the Built Environment
Dana Fritz, Ellie Irons, Anne Percoco, and Tattfoo Tan
March 21 – May 13, 2016
Curated by Gallery Director Kristen Evangelista, this exhibition addresses our complex, mediated, and often fraught relationship with nature, and features plants as well as photography, drawing, and collage by Dana Fritz, Ellie Irons, Anne Percoco and Tattfoo Tan.
Opening tomorrow, 4/10, and artist talk Monday, 4/18.
Article in Untapped Cities by Jeff Reuben, featuring the Next Epoch Seed Library in Chance Ecologies.
Greetings and Happy Autumn!
I’m excited to share that Ellie Irons and I are collaborating on a new project: the Next Epoch Seed Library, which we hope will grow to an extensive, participatory archive of the seeds of weeds. Thriving where others can’t or won’t, these hardy plants are best adapted to live in the long shadow we throw on the landscape. Learn more here: nextepochseedlibrary.org
We are debuting the project this month as part of Intersecting Imaginaries, organized by No Longer Empty’s Curatorial Lab. We are building a cabinet of small drawers into the cavity of an i-beam in the raw exhibition space. We also have a special collection from the Bronx, gathered with the help of Rena Lee.
The season for harvesting seeds is here. Would you like to contribute to NESL? Let me know – I’ll send you instructions!
Address: 900 Grand Concourse, Bronx
Subway: 3 blocks from the Yankee Stadium stop on the 4 Train
Exhibition Website: http://ow.ly/UV7Vf
Viewing Hours: Wed-Fri, 2-8 pm; Sat & Sun, 12-6 pm
Dates: Nov 20 to Dec 13