“Mutations”. A Lecture Series brings together a dynamic group of researchers, artists, thinkers, curators, and scholars. Curated by the fellows of the interdisciplinary artist residency “Mutations” at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, and in cooperation with the KfW Stiftung, Frankfurt, was the first of several public platforms developed within the scope of the program. Interconnected with the this digital platform, the lecture series is both an outcome of the program and a source of knowledge for further discussion. Within the fellows’ individual backgrounds in fields such as fine arts, architecture, music, philosophy, or life sciences, the lecture series aims to contribute a transdisciplinary approach to artistic investigation.
The following experts represent different voices that offer a spectrum of perspectives on the concept of mutations and its multifaceted impact on social, political, and scientific structures.
Moderating fellow: Sabina Hyoju Ahn
Using the Creative Process as a Computational Framework for Unfolding Complex Systems
In my research one picture is worth approximately 60 million numbers. How can one find patterns in complex information and work with the information creatively and intuitively leading to new and unique innovation? Using the compositional framework within the AlloSphere, one of the largest display devices in the world for multi-modal data representation and an ideal platform for designing our n-dimensional sketching system, we have developed a series of prototypes and solutions for immersive multimodal mappings of complicated scientific data.
Dr. JoAnn Kuchera-Morin Composer, Director and Chief Scientist of the AlloSphere Research Facility, is Professor of Media Arts and Technology and Music at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on creative computational systems, multi-modal media content, and facilities design. Her years of experience in digital media research led to the creation of a multi-million dollar sponsored research program for the University of California—the Digital Media Innovation Program. She was Chief Scientist of the Program from 1998 to 2003. The culmination of Professor Kuchera-Morin’s creativity and research is the AlloSphere, a 30-foot diameter, 3-story high metal sphere inside an echo-free cube, designed for immersive, interactive scientific and artistic investigation of multi-dimensional data sets. Professor Kuchera-Morin serves as the Director of the AlloSphere Research Facility located within the California NanoSystems Institute, Elings Hall, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She earned a Ph.D. in composition from the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester in 1984.
Moderating fellow: Angela Anderson
The Queer Futurity of Plastic
This lecture will examine the networks of queer kin that are inadvertently being birthed by the proliferation of plastic. The microorganisms that are appearing as a result of plastic’s proliferation—the new bacteria that have evolved in order to eat plastic—invite a reconfiguring of categories of kin making, not only to extend beyond normative family units, or even to the more-than-human world, but also to these slightly abhorrent technobacterial becomings.
Heather Davis (she/her) is an assistant professor of Culture and Media at The New School. She is the co-editor of Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies and Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada. Her current book project, Plastic Matter, re-examines materiality in relation to plastic. She is also a member of the Synthetic Collective, an interdisciplinary team of scientists, humanities scholars, and artists, who investigate and make visible plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. Her writing can be found at heathermdavis.com.
Moderating fellow: Grayson Earle
“Who Owns the Future of Gene Editing?”
In anthropologist Eben Kirksey’s latest book THE MUTANT PROJECT: Inside the Global Race to Genetically Modify Humans, he visits the frontiers of genetics, medicine, and technology to ask: Whose values are guiding gene editing experiments? And what does this new era of scientific inquiry mean for the future of the human species? His research sheds light on the fundamental questions about science, health, and social justice that are at stake. Kirksey is an American anthropologist, writer, storyteller, and associate professor (Research) at Alfred Deakin Institute in Melbourne, Australia.
Eben Kirksey is an American anthropologist who specializes on science and justice. The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, hosted Kirksey for the 2019-2020 academic year, where he finished his latest book: The Mutant Project. Eben Kirksey attended the University of Oxford as a British Marshall Scholar and earned his Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Duke University Press has published his first two books—Freedom in Entangled Worlds (2012) and Emergent Ecologies (2015)—as well as one edited collection: The Multispecies Salon (2014). In academic circles, Prof. Kirksey is perhaps best known for his work in multispecies ethnography—a field that situates contemporary scholarship on animals, microbes, plants, and fungi within deeply rooted traditions of environmental anthropology, continental philosophy, and the sociology of science. Currently he is Associate Professor (Research) at the Alfred Deakin Institute in Melbourne, Australia.
Marcia C. Castro
Moderating fellow: Joana Quiroga
Covid-19 in Brasil: A Mutating Virus in a Mutating Society
The talk will discuss the many transformations that Brazil has historically experienced that have provided both challenges and opportunities to contain the pandemic. It will also reflect how opportunities were lost, leading to a catastrophic scenario of exacerbating inequalities and excess mortality. Lastly, it will reflect how the SARS-CoV-2 virus is now mutating, triggering further transformations in Brazil.
Marcia Castro is Andelot Professor of Demography, chair of the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and co-director of the Brazil Studies Program of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS). Her research focuses on the development and use of multidisciplinary approaches to identify the determinants of infectious disease transmission in different ecological settings to inform control policies. She earned a PhD in Demography from Princeton University.
Moderating fellow: Clara Jo
Matters of Mutation
This lecture explores organic and inorganic modes of intelligence in the framework of the 13th Gwangju Biennale ‘Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning’ co-directed with Defne Ayas. Accelerated capitalism stirs crises within and between bodies amid the paradoxical textures of time. The jagged and atonal moment we are living through unleashes mutant beings—both microscopic and colossal—that quickly replace dated concepts of beauty, race, and dominant constructs of “nature.” What future body awaits us? How might collective ways of being and being held together and apart affect our understanding of where the body begins and ends?
Natasha Ginwala is an Associate Curator at Gropius Bau, Berlin; Co-artistic director of the 13th Gwangju Biennale and Artistic Director of COLOMBOSCOPE interdisciplinary arts festival.
Moderating fellow: Maxwell Mutanda
Small Scale, Big Change: 10 Years of Architectures of Social Engagement!
Andres Lepik is the director of the Architecture Museum TU Munich and a professor of Architectural History and Curatorial Practices at the TU Munich, Germany. His main focus is on the history and theory of architecture exhibitions and contemporary developments in the field of architectures of social engagement and participatory architectural structures.
Andres Lepik studied Art History at the University of Augsburg, after which he was awarded a fellowship for his doctoral studies on The Architectural Model in Italy 1353-1500 at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome. In 2007, he became curator of the Architecture and Design Department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2011-2012, he was a Loeb Fellow at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. On May 1, 2012 he was appointed to the Chair of History of Architecture and Curatorial Practices. Since 2012, he is the director of the Architecture Museum of the TUM.
Moderating fellow: Ana María Gómez López
And Say the Fossil Responded?
Sophia Roosth is an anthropologist who writes about the contemporary life and earth sciences. She is the author of Synthetic: How Life Got Made (Chicago 2017), an ethnography of synthetic biologists that documents the profound shifts biology has undergone in the post-genomic age. Her next book, The Quick and the Dead, will offer a historically and ethnographically informed travelogue into the worlds of contemporary geobiologists, scientists seeking ancient microbial life-forms fossilized in stone.
Sophia Roosth is a Max Planck Society Sabbatical Award Laureate. Her work has also been supported by a Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin, as well as fellowships at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She will join the faculty of New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study this fall. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University. She earned her PhD in 2010 in the Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Moderated by Rose Field
View this lecture on Vimeo.
Racial Regimes of Ownership: Laws of Property and the Colonial Present
How do modern concepts of ownership emerge in conjunction with racial subjectivities? How do histories of Indigenous land dispossession and the figure of the possessive individual haunt our present? In this talk, Brenna Bhandar will draw on historical and contemporary examples of colonial land dispossession to elaborate on how both laws of property and race are forged through an articulation with each other. Contemporary neoliberal shifts in the meaning of ownership, particularly in relation to housing, reveal how this formation continues to mutate, showing us the recombinant nature of racial regimes of ownership.
Brenna Bhandar is Associate Professor at Allard Law Faculty, UBC, Vancouver. Prior to this appointment, she was Reader in Law, SOAS, University of London. She is the author of Colonial Lives of Property: Law, Land and Racial Regimes of Ownership (Duke: 2018) and more recently, co-edited (with Rafeef Ziadah) a book of interviews with leading anti-racist feminists, Revolutionary Feminisms: Conversations on Collective Action and Radical Thought (Verso: 2020). She has published widely in the areas of critical legal theory, property studies, and critical race feminism.
Lectures were free and open to the public. The series took place within the KfW Stiftung’s Mondays102 – an event series at the Villa 102, the platform for culture and dialogue of the KfW and its foundation.