Artifacts of the Future – Symposium – ICA Boston

Artist Talk, Conversation, Panel Discussion, Presentation, Symposium

Artifacts of the Future – Symposium – ICA Boston

Thu, Oct 12, 2017-Fri, Oct 13, 2017 All day event
Artist Talk, Conversation, Panel Discussion, Presentation, Symposium Thu, Oct 12, 2017-Fri, Oct 13, 2017
All day event

The Northeastern Center for the Arts is pleased to collaborate with the ICA/Boston on a symposium entitled Artifacts of the Future. This two-day gathering will bring together leading artists, historians, and critics to share their work at the interface of natural and cultural landscapes.

This symposium is being organized in conjunction with a survey exhibition of Mark Dion’s work, Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist curated by Ruth Erickson for the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. Since the 1990s, Dion has employed the methods such as fieldwork, excavation, and cultivation to consider the history and cultural uses of nature. Taking these methods as a starting point, the symposium brings together leading artists to share their work at the interface of natural and cultural environments. Artifacts of the Future explores how landscapes index the past, present, and future, revealing histories that are inclusive of the contemporary and illuminating the complex temporality of our ecological moment.

The symposium begins on October 12th at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, in Mark Dion’s hometown, where the artist will deliver a keynote speech and continues the next day at the ICA/Boston.

Artifacts of the Future is a collaboration between the ICA/Boston; Northeastern University; University of Massachusetts Boston; University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; and University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Top image: Mark Dion, Landfill, 1999-2000, mixed media, 71 1/2 x 147 1/2 x 64 inches (181.6 x 374.7 x 162.6 cm). Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Museum purchase, Contemporary Collectors Fund, 2000.4. Photo by Pablo Mason. © Mark Dion

Thursday, October 12, 6-8pm

New Bedford Whaling Museum
Cook Memorial Theater
18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA 02740

Inspired by the City that Lit the World: Mark Dion Reflects on His Creative Process

  • 6-6:30pm: Pamela Karimi | The Artist and the American Post-Industrial Landscape
  • 6:30-7:30pm: Mark Dion | Space, Nature, and Materiality in New Bedford and Beyond
  • 7:30-8pm: Caroline A. Jones | Commentary and Q&A

Friday, October 13, 9am-3pm

Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA

Artists’ Talks

  • 9:00-9:30am: Coffee Reception
  • 9:30-9:45am: Welcoming Remarks
  • 9:45-10:15am: Mark Dion and Ruth Erickson in Conversation
  • 10:15-11:45am: Morning Session
    • Laurie Palmer | In the Aura of a Hole: Exploring Sites of Material Extraction
    • Cecilia Vicuña | Quipu Mapocho/Quipu Womb: Two Works in the Land and in the Museum, Addressing the Ancient Stories of Water and Survival in Chile and the Mediterranean
    • Lize Mogel | Walking the Watershed
    • Moderator: Sarah Kanouse
  • 12-1:30pm: Lunch Break
  • 1:30-2:30pm: Afternoon Session
    • Juan Williams Chávez | Working as a Hive in the Urban Ecosystem
    • Lenka Clayton | …circle through New York
    • Moderator: Kirsten Swenson
  • 2:30-3pm: Rebecca Uchill | Concluding Reflections



Ruth Erickson is the Mannion Family Curator at the ICA/Boston. She organized the exhibition Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st Century Naturalist. Her past exhibitions include Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957, organized with Helen Molesworth, as well as solo shows of the work of Rokni and Ramin Haerizadeh, Ethan Murrow, and Hesam Rahmanian.

Caroline A. Jones teaches modern and contemporary art in the History, Theory, Criticism program at MIT.  On leave at the National Humanities Center, she is engaged in a collaboration with historian of science Peter Galison, researching patterns of occlusion and political contestations in what she calls “the anthropogenic image” of environmental disaster.

Sarah Kanouse is an associate professor of media arts and interdisciplinary arts at Northeastern University and an interdisciplinary artist and writer examining the politics of landscape and public space. Her research-based creative projects trace the production of landscape through ecological, historical, and legal forces, particularly focusing on the environmental and cultural effects of military activities.

Pamela Karimi is associate director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and associate professor of Art History at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Her primary field of specialization is art, architecture, and visual culture of the modern Middle East. Her second area of research is design and sustainability in North America.

Kirsten Swenson is an associate professor of art history at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Her research and teaching focus on modern and contemporary art, particularly issues of identity, space, and place.

Rebecca Uchill is an art historian and independent curator whose work focuses on the institutional conditions for art production, display and dissemination. She serves as a lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.


Free and open to the public.
Registration required. See registration details below.

Juan Williams Chávez

Juan Williams Chávez, (Saint Louis, MO) is an artist and cultural activist who creates and shares space in the built and natural environment to address community identified issues. Chávez’s practice incorporates drawings, films, photographs, architectural interventions, and unconventional forms of beekeeping and agriculture that utilize art as a way of researching, developing and implementing creative place-making and socially-engaged projects.

Lenka Clayton

Lenka Clayton (Pittsburgh, PA) is an artist and founder of An Artist Residency in Motherhood. Her interdisciplinary work considers, exaggerates, and alters the accepted rules of everyday life, extending the familiar into the realms of the poetic and absurd.

Mark Dion

Mark Dion (New York, NY) is an artist who examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. Appropriating archaeology, field ecology, and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, Dion creates works that question the distinctions between “objective” (“rational”) scientific methods and “subjective” (“irrational”) influences.

Lize Mogel

Lize Mogel (New York, NY) is an interdisciplinary artist and counter-cartographer who creates maps and mappings that challenge mainstream narratives of sites or histories. Her work engages and implicates audiences in the politics of place. 

Laurie Palmer

Laurie Palmer (Santa Cruz, CA) is an artist, writer, and teacher. Her work is concerned, most immediately, with resistance to privatization, and more generally, with theoretical and material explorations of matter’s active nature as it asserts itself on different scales and in different speeds.

Cecilia Vicuña

Cecilia Vicuña (New York, NY) is a poet, artist, filmmaker and activist. Her work addresses pressing concerns of the modern world, including ecological destruction, human rights, and cultural homogenization.