HOW TO NOT BE A STUFFED ANIMAL
Taxidermy sits squarely between the arts and the sciences. The skillfully prepared animal bodies enhance their surroundings aesthetically. They move us towards a range of feelings, and they set off artistic traditions of their own. Taxidermy is used to teach taxonomy and the artful tradition of the diorama is an early approach to represent ecological connectivities.
As an anthropologist and a choreographer, we ask:
How we can translate the sensation of being moved by animals in Natural History Museums into a participatory event?
During our 24-month research and production period, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, we will explore the life of dead bodies through choreography in dialogue with multispecies and sensory ethnography.
In consultation with taxidermists, curators and historical records of museum artefacts, we create a series of audio walks for museum visitors which aim to set off a range of bodily experiences that orient participants towards a renewed and visceral understanding of animals on display and their museum surroundings.
A number of Natural History Museums throughout the world provide our field sites for comparative research and production: the Australian Museum in Sydney, the Field Museum in Chicago, the Jagd- und Fischereimuseum in Munich, Museum Natur und Mensch in Freiburg and the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town.
The project is situated at the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology at Freiburg University.
SUSANNE SCHMITT is a social and cultural anthropologist ('The Science Museum that goes under your skin. A sensory ethnography of the Deutsches Hygiene Museum in Dresden.' Transcript Verlag, 2012). She works as a researcher, consultant, curator and interdisciplinary artist.
LAURIE YOUNG is a choreographer and dancer whose work deals with archive and representation and includes the installation diorama Natural Habitat (2011) created for the Naturkundemuseum, Berlin made in collaboration with museum staff and researchers. Susanne Schmitt and Laurie Young are Fellows of the Volkswagen Foundation's “Arts and Science in Motion” program.
ANNA LIPPHARDT is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Freiburg. We are teaching a practice-based seminar with students from Freiburg University together, exploring Susanne Schmitt and Laurie Young’s concept within local science and arts institutions. In addition she will conduct accompanying research on approaches and challenges of arts and science collaborations.
Susanne SchmittJamnitzerstraße 1181543 München
Telefon:+49 (0) 176 24550261
Susanne Schmitt, Laurie Young