News | February 2016

Recent and Upcoming News

Hi friends and colleagues, I hope this newsletter thingy is taken as an invitation to be in communication now and then. There’s a link to unsubscribe, below. Otherwise, here are highlights from 2015:

2016 began with a one month trip to Southeast Asia, which I’m still reeling from (tales below). I’m on sabbatical until September, producing work an upcoming show at Art Laboratory Berlin, part of a year-long series on Nonhuman Subjectivities. I am also working on a commissioned artwork about a woman scientist for an exhibition which will open at the Queensland University of Technology in July; I’m excited about my subject, the witty and curious conservationist and primatologist Alison Jolly.

Warm wishes,
–Rachel

The Life Cycle of Toxoplasma Gondii

January 2015 began with a new installation for the incredibly packed and fun Wunderkammer show at Pitzer College, curated by Ciara Ennis. The installation, made up of 29 looping youtube videos on 7 inch monitors, ties together the tactile urge to pet cats along the life cycle of the parasite who travels fecal-orally from cats to rodents and humans. Once infected, zombie-like rats fatally gravitate to cats to complete the parasite’s reproductive cycle. Humans are also lured by cats or their parasites; many of us are infected, apparently making women flamboyant and men reclusive. The infection cycle connects to a taxonomy of cats in motion: falling, flying, jumping, twisting, and landing. Documentation including a video is on my website.  Here‘s a review by Glenn Harcourt for Archive Journal. Currently, it’s part of a wonderful online exhibition on mind-microbiome connections, Gut Instinct, curated by Charissa Terranova and Dave Wessner at the SciArt Center of New York, February 2016.

The Bathroom Collection of Anne Bray and David Sloane

I was excited to be invited by Enid Ryce Baxter to produce art for the Bay Delta Science Conference because here in California we are in the fifth year of drought, on the front line of climate change and the world water crisis. The Human Delta posters, installed in the bathrooms of the conference, were inspired by hearing that the fish of the Puget Sound of Seattle are caffeinated. Complicating matters, I learned through my friend Nicole Cousino that human urine, when diluted, is essentially fertilizer. Her new company Nature Commode, provides a pleasant, sustainable approach (an un-icky portable toilet to rent for events) to restore human “waste” to the soil, completing an ecological cycle. 

Palm Oil Forests of Borneo

In January 2016 I was fortunate to join EnviroLab Asia on a research trip on palm oil, deforestation, and marine life in Malysian Borneo and Singapore. With faculty and students from Claremont Colleges and Yale-NUS, we visited Sarawak, Malaysia where we met with local activists who are working to prevent a mega-dam from being built on the wild Baram River. We drove for five hours from the coastal city of Miri inland to their longhouse on the river, witnessing miles of palm oil plantations and logged secondary forests on the way. The dam would create irrevocable environmental and cultural damage (as this video explains).  Afterwards, we met with the sustainability office of Wilmar, the largest producer of palm oil. A very good interactive about palm oil can be found at the Guardian. Our trip was beautifully documented by Tom White and others.

Library of Leaves

After seeing so much agribusiness I wanted to see Borneo’s famous biodiversity. So after EnviroLab, I travelled to the Danum Valley Field Centre in Sabah, a scientific research area in a primary forest. There my partner and I heard the sounds of gibbons, macaques and other monkeys, hornbills, and even pygmy elephants eating residents’ newly planted banana trees. We followed research assistants who are archiving a 50 hectare plot, tree by tree (over 1 cm), creating a record its biodiversity as part of a Smithsonian project. Above is a still from a video I took of one of the botanists, Ica, who keeps of record of each tree by wrapping a leaf in newspaper, then arranging the leaves by species in the cabinet behind her. I met so many great people in Malaysia and Indonesia, and feel very grateful for having the opportunity to learn from them. 

Below, a flourish by Jose Clemente Orozco, from the catalog for Miracles and Disasters in Renaissance and Baroque Theater Mechanics, designed by Orozco and written by Mayeri.


All content © Copyright 2016 by Rachel Mayeri.
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