THE ANTHROPOCENE SLAM: A CABINET OF CURIOSITIES NOVEMBER 8-10

WISCONSIN INSTITUTES FOR DISCOVERY DELUCA FORUM MADISON

EXCERPTS FROM ANNA'S CABINET

photo of a woman

Anna's Cabinet of curiosities is a narrative structured around a series of objects from the archives of a fictitious, unknown, female explorer, Anna Schwartz. This layered story builds on my collaboration with scientists and my experience in Antarctica as a recipient of the NSF Antarctic Artists and Writers Grant. It addresses the history of Cartesian science as well as current climate change data in the context of economic and political realities and explores an aesthetic of loss in the era of the Anthropocene. It also suggests alternative approaches to studying and relating to the nonhuman world.

Anna is a photographer and a naturalist obsessed with the microscopic planktonic snail the Limacina helicina and its predator the Clione antarctica. Her intimate relationship to these organisms contradicts the heroic notions of exploration in her day, while ironically, her focus on the minute and invisible layers of the Antarctic landscape is more relevant to current research. These planktonic snails studied by my collaborator, biological oceanographer Dr. Victoria Fabry, function as canaries in the coalmine when it comes to ocean acidification - one of the most insidious aspects of anthropogenic climate change that is rapidly altering the food chain and ecology of the oceans.

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