Calendar of Events

Fall 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Placing the Golden Spike: Landscapes of the Anthropocene
An INOVA exhibition preview for UWM faculty and students
5:30 pm UWM INOVA (Institute of Visual Arts)
2155 N Prospect Ave
RSVP is encouraged

Opening March 26, 2015 and continuing through the end of the semester, Placing the Golden Spike offers opportunities for UWM faculty and students across disciplines to participate in an ongoing and increasingly urgent inquiry into the ways that human activities are transforming our environment at the local and global scale. The preview will introduce the artists and content of the show with the aims of stimulating discussion on how you might use the exhibition in your Spring 2015 courses in the arts, humanities, and sciences. Light refreshments will be served and your RSVP is encouraged.

Over the last decade, scientists and humanists have been considering a proposal to rename our current geological era the “Anthropocene” in recognition of the profound impact that human activities have had upon the earth’s crust and atmosphere. The concept of the Anthropocene equates humanity with geological forces like glaciers, volcanoes and meteors and suggests that a sharp division between nature and culture or technology is no longer tenable. But if the Anthropocene is to be accepted then one major question must be answered: when and where did human activities begin to leave an indelible mark upon the surface of Earth? Did the Anthropocene begin with the industrial revolution, with fossil fuel extraction, nuclear testing, or with the advent of agriculture over 40,000 years ago?

Marina Zurkow, still from Mesocosm (Wink, Texas), 2012

Placing the Golden Spike showcases works by nine artists that highlight different sites and new ways of understanding the landscapes of the Anthropocene. For each geological epoch the International Union of Geological Sciences identifies an exemplary site and marks it by driving a golden spike into the rock strata. The exhibition proposes a series of sites where geologists might place the next golden spike, including the surreal landscapes of oil fields (Marina Zurkow), petrochemical production (Steve Rowell), Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal site (Eve Laramee) and the Atlantic seaboard (Roderick Coover).

Other sites reflect more abstract and dispersed entities like the atmosphere (Amy Balkin), rising sea levels (Eric Corriel), plastic refuse (Yevgeniya Kaganovich) and even digital space (Xavier Cha). Natalie Jeremijenko’s urban agriculture project takes the exhibition out of the gallery and into the city, where participants will be invited to explore the impacts of climate change on patterns of urban plant and animal life.

The exhibition presents an opportunity to develop transdiscplinary pedagogical strategies for exploring scientific questions in a visual field, introducing creative methods of documentation and site specific investigation, exploring narratives of the past and speculating about future social and environmental conditions. As part of its public programming, INOVA will host a series of lectures and programs by visiting artists and scholars. For classes to engage more deeply, we will offer tours of the exhibition and open our lecture and screening room (which accommodates up to 40) for post-tour discussions and class meetings. We could also arrange for exhibiting artists to speak to students, if schedules allow. We hope that your input will generate other creative ideas for student and faculty involvement.

Please contact INOVA Director, Sara Krajewski, with questions and RSVP.

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