Slimy Friction 2015

Lintang Radittya and Cindy Lin
Printed Circuit Board, Plectostoma wallacei wallacei specimen

The discovery, classification, and (inevitable) extinction of the snail genus Plectostoma reminds us of the inextricable and intricate webs, which humans and nonhumans are constantly embroiled and entangled in. First named in 1887 after Alfred Russel Wallace by Ancey in 1887, the Plectostoma wallacei wallacei and their snail mates’ almost absolute dependence on the rare limestone habitats of Southeast Asia evoke both notions of spatial domination and extreme vulnerability. In its oscillation between domination and isolation, the fate of the Plectostoma appears to be sealed with various limestone mining excavations in Southeast Asia. The etching of the Plectostoma wallaice wallacei’s silhouette juxtaposes how boldly ironic our concern for soon-absent nonhumans animals are. Produced with mineral substances gained through resource extraction in environmentally violent mining operations, technology such as transistors and closed circuit boards represent both the life and death of the Plectostoma.

Image credits to the team of 125,660 Specimens of Natural History

125,660 Specimens of Natural History

125,660 Specimens of Natural History is an ongoing curatorial research project about colonial natural history collections and the environmental transformations they produced, and the legacy of these activities, known as the Anthropocene. The project follows the course of Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913), best known for co-discovering the theory of evolution by natural selection. From 1854 to 1862, Wallace travelled the Malay Archipelago, documenting the region’s biodiversity and amassing a gigantic collection of specimens for European museums. The project invites artists to retrace, re-appropriate or reassess the expedition, its documents, and its various artifacts, and explores how trans-cultural collaborative approaches to artistic and scientific practice can address urgent environmental questions.

Premiering at the gallery of the multi-arts center Komunitas Salihara, Jakarta, Indonesia on 15 August 2015 as the exhibition entitled 125.660 Spesimen Sejarah Alam, the project presents works by 13 Indonesian participants and 13 foreign participants—including ten newly created artworks—alongside books, archival material and zoological specimens from the Research Center for Biology/Indonesian Institute of Sciences (MZB/LIPI) at Bogor-Cibinong, and related historical objects. A special highlight of 125.660 Spesimen is a selection from LIPI’s collection of historical glass plate negatives, which document the environmental and botanical transformations of the Indonesian archipelago at the turn of the twentieth century. These negatives have never before been presented to the public and comprise the only collection of its kind in Indonesia.

A second iteration of the project, realized in partnership with the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, will move to the Tieranatomisches Theater of Berlin’s Humboldt University in 2016.