This symposium takes place in conjunction with Mark Dion’s survey exhibition Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. Since the 1990s, Dion has employed the methods of 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 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, in Mark Dion’s hometown, where the artist will deliver a keynote speech. It continues the next day at the ICA.

All events are free and open to the public.

Artifacts of the Future is organized in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Boston, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Northeastern Center for the Arts.

Major support is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Additional support is generously provided by Jane and Robert Burke, Steve Corkin and Dan Maddalena, Fotene Demoulas and Tom Coté, Jean-François and Nathalie Ducrest, Tristin and Martin Mannion, and Cynthia and John Reed.


Thu, Oct 12, 2017 | 6–8 PM

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

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

  • 6:00–6:30 PM: Pamela Karimi | The Artist and the American Post-Industrial Landscape
  • 6:30–7:30 PM: Mark Dion |  Space, Nature, and Materiality in New Bedford and Beyond
  • 7:30–8 PM: Caroline A. Jones | Commentary and Q&A

Registration required. Registrants please arrive 15 minutes early to guarantee your seat.

This event is presented by UMass Dartmouth.

Register for Oct 12

Friday, October 13, 2017 | 9 AM–3 PM

Artists’ Talks

LOCATION: Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA

  • 9:00–9:30 AM: Coffee Reception
  • 9:30–9:45 AM: Welcoming Remarks
  • 9:45–10:15 AM: Mark Dion and Ruth Erickson in Conversation
  • 10:15–11:45 AM: Morning Session
         A. 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
  • 12:00–1:30 PM: Lunch Break
  • 1:30–2:30 PM: Afternoon Session
         Juan William Chávez | Working as a Hive in the Urban Ecosystem
         Lenka Clayton | …circle through New York
         Moderator: Kirsten Swenson
  • 2:30–3:00 PM: Rebecca Uchill | Concluding Reflections

Register for Oct 13

Presenter Biographies

  • 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 (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 (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 (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. 
  • A. 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 (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.
  • 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 Ethan Murrow and Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, 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.