Art Exhibition: Capitalist Architecture in a Posthumanist World

Artwork on left: Andrea Barone, Shady, 2014

Artwork on left: Andrea Barone, Shady, 2014

On March 20, 2015, the art exhibition Capitalist Architecture in a Posthumanist World opened on the second floor of Millington Hall.  Featuring 13 emerging artists exploring the theme of suburban architectural decay in the United States, the exhibition asked the viewer to question the autonomy of architectural spaces.  One of the major tenets of posthumanist theory remarks upon how, as humans, we are not a singular species, but instead an assemblage of many species.  In today’s world of box stores and constant capitalist expansion and contraction, one can begin to imagine buildings to be this way as well.  What happens to buildings when they are left untouched?  What types of species take them over?  And what are the large-scale, long-term implications for humans as building debris is caught in a state of entropy?

Lindsay Garcia, Spaces of Williamsburg, 2015

Lindsay Garcia, Spaces of Williamsburg, 2015

As exhibited in the artwork I presented for the show Spaces of Williamsburg, the exhibition points to the problem of accumulating architectural spaces in Middle America and looks toward creative solutions to those problems.  While each artist employs different approaches and artistic media, the inspiration for the exhibition derives from Williamsburg’s increasing number of empty spaces, both those that have been abandoned and ones that are brand new and uninhabited.  The exhibition looked at the interconnected, complex, and problematic relationships between humans, nonhuman animals, climate, nature, culture, and capitalism. Bringing together artists and scholars, we can imagine a more hospitable environment in which all species and ecosystems can survive ongoing challenges and injustices.

From left to right: Lauren Britton, Lick my Lips, 2014; Karen Lee, Dead Air I, II, & III; Andrea Barone and Eugenia Malioykova, Untitled, 2014

From left to right: Lauren Britton, Lick my Lips, 2014; Karen Lee, Dead Air I, II, & III; Andrea Barone and Eugenia Malioykova, Untitled, 2014

The show took over abandoned faculty offices on the second floor of the semi-decommissioned science building, Millington Hall, at the College of William and Mary from March 6 – March 27, 2015.  This site is especially fitting for an exhibition with this theme as the building will be demolished in 2016 to make way for collegiate expansion.  Plus, multiple types of species already inhabit the building: the 4000 square foot greenhouse laboratory stewards a collection of plants including an expansive orchid collection; labs process field archeological findings such as animal bones; and the building is the former home to the Center for Conservation Biology, among other multispecies collaborations and experiments.

From left to right: Kelsey Harrison, Gonna Feel Real Good, 2015; Julia Norton, Station #2, 2014-15; Courtney Childress, Mat #1, 2015

From left to right: Kelsey Harrison, Gonna Feel Real Good, 2015; Julia Norton, Station #2, 2014-15; Courtney Childress, Mat #1, 2015

The artists included were: Andrea Barone, Adam Brazil, Lauren Britton, Courtney Childress, Lindsay Garcia, Samantha Harmon, Kelsey Harrison, Christina Healy, Amy Jorgenson, Karen Lee, Eugenia Malioykova, Julia Norton, and Ryann Slauson.  This exhibition acted as a laboratory for research that will lead to my MA Thesis on empty spaces in Williamsburg and the historical, physical, emotional, and theoretical implications of them.  By working in this interdisciplinary fashion (making art, curating an exhibition, and writing on the subject), I can begin to fashion solutions to issues of injustice by practicing different ways to access humans as agents for change.  Please do not hesitate to contact me for more information on the exhibition, the artists included, or any aspect of this research at ldgarcia@email.wm.edu.  (www.lindsaygarcia.com)