Congress for Curious People with Coney Island USA

A ten day series of lectures and performances culminating in a two day symposium, all of which explore curiosity and curiosities broadly considered
Dates: April 25th – May 4th
Buy tickets here
*** Offsite at Coney Island USA
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Morbid Anatomy is thrilled to announce, in conjunction with Coney Island USA, the 2014 “Congress for Curious People”–a ten day series of lectures and performances culminating in a two day symposium, all of which explore curiosity and curiosities broadly considered. This year’s Congress takes “simulation” as its theme, and will feature many of our all-time favorite international scholars, artists, performers and thinkers, including Evan Michelson, Edgar Oliver, Les the Mentalist, Shannon Taggart, Biran Catling, Anthony Matt, Zoe Beloff, John Troyer, Mat Fraser, Salvador Olguin, Amy Herzog, Jennifer Miller, Betsy Bradley, Ronni Thomas and Chris Muller.

The full schedule for the Congress for Curious Peoples follows. You can find out more about all events–and purchase tickets!–by clicking here. All events take place at Coney Island USA in Brooklyn, New York and are supported by The British Council and a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Hope very much to see you there!

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Opening Party

Friday, April 25, 2014 – 8:00pm
More here.

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Alumni Weekend
Saturday, April 26, 2014 – 1:00pm – Sunday, April 27, 2014 – 7:00pm
More here.

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Industrial Ladies – A lecture by Evan Michelson
Monday, April 28, 2014 – 7:30pm
More here.

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Desire and the Sea – A performance by Edgar Oliver
Monday, April 28 at 9:00pm
More here.

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Acep Hale: Chicanery, Counting, and Cee-lo: Memory and Simulation in Service to Skulduggery
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 – 7:30pm
More here.

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A Thrilling Journey Into the Mind with Les the Mentalist
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 – 9:00pm
More here.

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The Coney Island Beach Ball – A Vogue Competition between the House of Vogue 3D and The Coney Island Dancers
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 – 9:00pm
More here.

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Kirlian Devices, William Burroughs, and Radionic Photography – An Illustrated Series of Lectures by Shannon Taggart, James Riley, Doug Skinner and Anthony Matt
Thursday, May 1, 2014 – 7:30pm
More here.

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Mechanical Medium – A film by Zoe Beloff with live sound by Gen. Ken Montgomery
Thursday, May 1, 2014 – 9:00pm
More here.

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TravSD: From Angels to Anarchists: The Evolution of the Marx Brothers
Friday, May 2, 2014 – 7:30pm
More here.

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Penny Arcade at the Penny Arcade
Friday, May 2, 2014 – 9:00pm
More here.

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The Congress for Curious People Symposium on “Simulation”
Saturday, May 3 and Sunday, May 4 at 11:00 AM – 6 PM

 Saturday, May 3, 2014 – 11:00am

11:00am: SIMULATION AND RELIGION

Sarah Johnson’s lecture on Jacques Marchais and the replica of a Tibetan Monastery on Staten Island. Followed by a film clip by Sal Olguin and a panel discussion moderated by Don Jolly and featuring Sarah Johnson, and Sal Olguin.

12:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm: POP, THE PARANORMAL AND OTHER MYTHS WE LIVE: CONTEMPLATING THE LIMINAL

Shannon Taggart, Acep Hale, and George Hansen who will give three short presentations on Myth and Popular Culture, Michael Jackson’s After Life, and Uri Geller at the Crossroads. Followed by a Q and A, moderated by Aaron Beebe

3:30pm: THE HISTORY OF DISPLAY

Chris Muller’s lecture on the history of display. Followed by World’s Fair home movies and a panel discussion moderated by Joanna Ebenstein and featuring Betsy Bradley and Chris Muller.

5:00pm: Break

5:30pm: Screening: “Vanished! A Video Seance” (1999, 75 minutes) by Brian Catling. Followed by a Q and A with the artist.

7:00pm Dinner for Congressional Pass Holders and Participants.

Sunday, May 4, 2014 – 11:00am

 11:00am: “PASSING”

Adrienne Albright’s lecture on Medieval Cross-dressers. Followed by a performance by Tara Mateik, a simulated talk by Amy Herzog, and a panel discussion moderated by Amy Herzog and featuring Jennifer Miller, Martha Wilson, Tara Mateik, and Adrienne Albright.

12:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm: A VISIT TO THE SIDESHOW

3:00pm: Screening of Ronni Thomas’ Morbid Anatomy Presents’ “PHANTASAMAGORIA”

3:30pm: THE NORMAL, THE ABNORMAL, AND THE PATHOLOGICAL ON DISPLAY

John Troyer, Joanna Ebenstein and Mat Fraser on “the Normal, the Abnormal, and the Pathological on Display” followed by a panel discussion moderated by John Troyer.

 

Jewelry of the Damned: Amuletic Protection and Apotropaic Magic

Bes image, Third Intermediate Period (ca. 1070–712 B.C.); Metropolitan Museum of Art

Illustrated lecture with Ava Forte Vitali, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Date: Thursday, May 29
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $8
Buy tickets here
*** Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space) , 424A 3rd Avenue (Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue)
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Part of the Death and The Occult in the Ancient World Series

In the ancient world, everyday objects had all sorts of purposes and meanings; many were believed to be infused with magic, in order to protect the owner from all sorts of dangerous elements. While not readily identifiable by to the modern viewer, the symbols used in Ancient Egypt were part of a visual currency that would have been understood by all levels of society. Interestingly, on many personal objects we find images of demons and dangerous animals, that in another context would be seen as harmful to the owner – what are they doing here, and how are they functioning in relation to these other symbols? This lectures aims to present some of these well-known and lesser known magical symbols – as well as introduce a few of our friendly, neighborhood demon protectors.

Ava Forte Vitali completed her Master’s Degree in Art History and Archaeology, with a specialization in the Egyptian and Classical World, at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Her research interests include the interaction of the physical and spirit world in Ancient Egypt, archaeology of the household, and Ancient Egyptian domestic and ancestor cults, on which her Master’s focused. She has excavated at sites in Egypt and Turkey, and is a Collections Manager for Greek and Roman Art at the Metropolitan Museum. She is currently writing a contribution on the Arts and Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, for an upcoming text book on the introduction to Art History.

Death and The Occult in the Ancient World Series
This is a new series of monthly lectures, workshops and tours which aim to examine the way people along the ancient Mediterranean interacted with the unseen forces in the world. While many basic ancient myths and mortuary traditions are known to most people with a casual interest, often this barely scrapes the top of a rich wealth of information and long history of interesting, engaging, and surprisingly weird traditions and beliefs. Through illustrated lectures, guided tours, and occasional workshops, we  will strive to understand the different approaches that the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans had to explaining the world around them and challenge popular misconceptions held by the public today.

Through this series we hope to bridge the gap that often exists between academic disciplines and the public audience, bringing the two together in an approachable forum. Led by a trained Archaeologist and Art Historian Ava Forte Vitali of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this series will expand upon topics including religion, art, archaeology, and texts, in order to further our understanding of both our world and theirs.

Brontë Relics

The Brontë Sisters by Patrick Branwell Brontë; via Wikimedia

An Illustrated Lecture with Professor Deborah Lutz
Date: Thursday, May 15
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $8
Buy tickets here
*** Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space) , 424 A 3rd Avenue (Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue)
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Portable desk boxes, samplers, albums of pressed ferns, printed books with diaries written on their flyleaves, mended stockings and locks of hair that belonged to the Brontës carry traces of their lives: nicked with incident, smoothed by handling, frayed with wearing. These things bring to life the daily, domestic round of the Brontë sisters. The Brontës themselves believed in the ability of material objects to be charged with an almost-enchanted meaning, to be imbued by their possessors.

Emily, Anne and Charlotte surrounded the characters in their novels with such articles: the wardrobe with paintings of the twelve apostles on its front that gleams out of a dark corner at Jane Eyre as she sits in the anteroom of a madwoman’s prison. The oak sleeping cabinet that belonged to the now-dead Catherine Earnshaw holds her old books and the names she carved into the wood: those who sleep there dream of her. Love letters in a sealed bottle are buried by Lucy Snowe under a pear tree; Agnes Grey watches her desk be catapulted out the window by the brats she teaches. The ordinary—and extraordinary—pasts of these women emerge out of the remnants of their physical selves.

Deborah Lutz is finishing a book on Brontë relics: The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects (forthcoming, Norton, 2015). She also has a book due out soon on a related topic—Relics of Death in Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Previous books include The Dangerous Lover: Gothic Villains, Byronism, and the Nineteenth-Century Seduction Narrative (Ohio State UP, 2006) and Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism (Norton, 2011).

The Body Anatomized: Art Studio and History Class with SVA’s Jonathon Rosen

Gautier D’Agoty; Anatomy of a Woman’s Spine. Via http://www.artexpertswebsite.com/pages/artists/dagoty.php

Dates: Mondays June 2 to July 21 (8 sessions)
Admission: $300
Time: 7-10
Tickets: Click here
Class limited to 20 people
*** Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space) , 424 A 3rd Avenue (Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue)
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
This class is part of
The Morbid Anatomy Art Academy

Temple of the soul or soft machine? The body is where human art, science, culture, politics and medicine all intersect. This hybrid lecture/studio course takes inspiration from artists ancient to post-modern who use medicine and anatomy as a point of departure for personal, political, religious or scientific commentary.

Over eight sessions, Jonathon Rosen will explore the influence of traditional medical imagery on contemporary art-making and pop culture through the lens of history, culture and aesthetics. Examples will range from medieval doctor’s sketchbooks and illuminated manuscripts, via Renaissance medical surrealism and 19th century medical devices, to contemporary works by Damien Hirst, John Isaacs, the virtual human project, BodyWorlds, and beyond. On the way we will also touch on aesthetic surgery, genetics, biomechanics, medical museums, anatomy in movies and French underground comics.

With Jonathon’s ongoing critical feedback and guidance, students will generate finished artworks incorporating medicine or anatomy as a point of departure, be it personal or political, didactic or obscure. This work can be singular or narrative, 2D, 3D, static or moving, in any medium, and projects are not required to be anatomically correct (and please note: Jonathon will not be giving how-to instruction in traditional medical illustration). There will also be an ongoing in-class assignment, based around anatomizing pre-existing vintage images.

Jonathon Rosen is a NY-based artist and animator who teaches at the School of Visual Arts. He has worked with Jean Michel Basquiat and Tim Burton (the journal drawings, Sleepy Hollow), and made artwork for ID Magazine, Popular Science, Oxford Review, New Scientist, Psychology Today, Discover Magazine, RCA Records, Rolling Stone, MTV, the New York Times Science Times & Sunday Magazine, and many more. His work has been shown at PS.1, and is in the collections of David Cronenberg and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

SYLLABUS

Class 1: Coming Attractions. A visual overview of the course as an introduction to the history of medical-art & imagery including an introduction to your instructor’s work. Discussion of class, homework and assignments.

Class 2: Sacred Anatomy and Materia Medica. The invention of scientific illustration: The earliest printed medical textbooks and the pioneers of human dissection. From early Islamic to late medieval European. Barbers, surgeons and wound men, demons, miraculous limb transplants, hybrid monsters and diagnosis by zodiac.

Class 3: The emergence of modernity and the culture of dissection in Renaissance culture. Vesalius, Leonardo Da Vinci, Realdo Colombo, Charles Estienne, Jacopo Berengario da Carpi.

Class 4: Medical Chic: Baroque to Enlightenment era. The Anatomy Theater, Albinus. The Altlas of Jean Baptiste Marc Bourgery. Hogarth & satires of medicine. Spotlight on Jacques Fabien Gautier d’Agoty.

Class 5: 19th century; Optical devices, x-rays, prosthetics, automatons, pop-up books & anatomical manikins. Medical Museums, Mutter, Vrolik, La Specola & wax figuration. Etienne-Jules Marey and motion capture.

Class 6: 20th century; Medical Industrial Complex: Fritz Khan and mechanical/ metaphorical bodies. Vintage Educational anatomy & health films: How the eyes and ears work. Illustrations by Netter. Vintage Chinese medical posters.

Class 7: Fantastic Voyage: Clive Barker’s Faust, Stan Brakhage’s the act of seeing with one’s own eyes. Body Worlds. New imaging: virtual cadavers, prosthetics, braces, body scanning, genetics, medical animation. Growing body parts and sensor-driven prosthetics. New Artists including; Marseille collective Le Dernier Cri’s Hopital Brut, Damien Hurst, John Isaacs.

Class 8: Final project due / critique

 

Existential Mathematics

An Illustrated Lecture with Laurent Derobert
Date: Friday, May 9

Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $8
Buy tickets here
*** Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space) , 424 A 3rd Avenue (Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue)
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Existential Mathematics are an algebra of feelings. They are at the same time a scientific and an artistic discipline whose purpose is to translate freedom into mathematical language. They generate equations, conjectures, theorems, which express emotions, thoughts and doubts as much they cause them.

Every math teacher insists that algebra is a language, but in Laurent Derobert’s hands it becomes sculpture, art, poetry, philosophy. In this talk Laurent will use mathematics to question our relationship with the world, and to re-conquer unexplored territories of consciousness and human interaction. This is algebra with an avowedly human purpose – reducing the labyrinthine distance that separates us from what we dream ourselves to be.

Laurent Derobert was born in 1974, and works in Paris and Avignon. A doctor of economics and a researcher (CNRS GREQAM), he develops models of existential mathematics.

Morbid Ingenuity: American Autodecapitants

Illustrated Lecture with Robert Damon Schneck
Date: Thursday, May 22
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $8
Buy tickets here
*** Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space) , 424 A 3rd Avenue (Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue)
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Does beheading call to mind the grim excesses of state power or contemporary terrorism? Think again. For a small but dedicated group of nineteenth- and twentieth-century suicides the construction of a home-made guillotine offered not only a quick, clean way out, but also a way to test their engineering skills quite literally to the limit, in a culture that celebrated ‘Yankee ingenuity.’ Join Robert Damon Schneck for an evening dedicated to hinged axes, weighted blades, and even – gulp – the odd chainsaw.

Robert Damon Schneck is a chronicler of historical American oddities. He contributes to the Fortean Times, and has written The President’s Vampire (Anomalist Books, 2005) and strange-but-true books for children. This talk is based on a chapter from his next book, Mrs Wakeman Vs the Antichrist, out with Penguin / Tarcher in October.

 

Extraordinary Birds: The Art of Ornithology Lecture and Book Signing

Dissected pigeon from Elliott Coues “Key to North American Birds,” 1894

Illustrated lecture with Paul Sweet, Collection Manager in the Department of Ornithology, AMNH
Date: Tuesday, July 22

Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
*** Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space) , 424 A 3rd Avenue (Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue)
*** Copies of Extraordinary Birds will be available for sale and signing

Tonight, join American Museum of Natural History ornithologist Paul Sweet for a heavily illustrated lecture based on his new book Extraordinary Birds, the second publication in the AMNH’s Natural Histories series. In Extraordinary Birds, Paul traces the history of ornithological illustration from the Renaissance to the 20th century, examining the development of scientific thought, world exploration and printing techniques, and telling the stories of important figures from the history of ornithology.

Paul Sweet was born in Bristol, England, and has been interested in birds for as long as he can remember. After completing a degree in zoology at the University of Liverpool, he traveled in the Americas and Asia for several years before working in the Raffles Museum in Singapore. In 1991 he moved to New York to work at the American Museum of Natural History, where he is now the Collection Manager in the Ornithology Department overseeing the world’s largest collection of bird specimens. During his tenure at the AMNH he has participated in over 20 AMNH collecting expeditions to many far-flung locales.

Art and Anatomy: Preserving and Exhibiting the Human Body

Illustrated lecture with Dr Corinna Wagner, University of Exeter
Date: Monday, May 5

Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $8
Location: *** Offsite: Morbid Anatomy Museum (New Space) , 424 A 3rd Avenue (Corner of 7th Street and 3rd Avenue)
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

In this illustrated talk, Dr Corinna Wagner will investigate collaborations between artists and anatomists, from the late eighteenth century to the present day. We will look at the ways artists and anatomists shared a belief that by understanding the body’s interior, we may more fully understanding what it means to be human.

Two medical art forms in particular—wax anatomical models and écorchés (flayed bodies)—inspired debates over such questions as: how might seeing into the body change human identity? How would public access to wax anatomical models and preserved bodies change people’s views about ‘normality’ and ‘abnormality’? Did the spectacle of preserved bodies affect feelings of human compassion, sympathy and communality?

These types of questions have galvanized artists, writers, medical figures and the wider public in the past, and they continue to do so today. These issues may never be fully resolved; yet, as she will demonstrate, the spectacle of the body’s interior—as art, as medical illustration, as exhibit—has altered our ideas about human value, human distinctiveness and human identity.

Dr Corinna Wagner is Senior Lecturer is the English Department and the Department of Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter, England. Her research and teaching focuses on the relationship between art, literature and medicine. She has just published two books: Pathological Bodies: Medicine and Political Culture (University of California, 2013) and Gothic Evolutions: Poetry, Tales, Context, Theory (Broadview, 2014). Currently, she is co-editing an anthology of poetry and medical writing, called Body of Work (Bloomsbury, 2015) and is finishing a book entitled Transparent Bodies: Medicine and Visual Technologies.

Making Dinosaurs: The Art and Science of Fossil Preparation

Credit: Courtesy of American Museum of Natural History

Illustrated Lecture by Caitlin Wylie, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Date: Tuesday, May 13

Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $8
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Dinosaur skeletons standing tall and mighty are a familiar sight in museums. But how did they get that way? You probably already know that fossils lie encased in ancient rock until that rock weathers away, leaving them exposed and ready to be spotted by a lucky fossil hunter. But what happens next is rarely written down or shared outside the community of fossil researchers and technicians. This talk goes between the lines of scientific publications and behind the scenes of museum laboratories to investigate the people, practices, and motivations involved in making crumbling, incomplete fossils into both beautiful dinosaur skeletons and elegant theories about past life, evolution, and Earth history. This talk will trace the history of how rocks have been transformed into portrayals of extinct organisms since the 19th century, based on case studies of fossil specimens, as well as how today’s fossil preparators approach their work, both as a science and as an art.

Caitlin Wylie studies how scientists and technicians make research specimens in today’s laboratories. Her Ph.D., from the University of Cambridge, investigates how fossil preparators do the delicate work of removing rock from fossils and repairing and reconstructing them, as well as how these informally-trained technicians fit in the scientific community. Caitlin is a lecturer at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in the Program for Science, Technology and Society.

The Surprising Story of the Ku Klux Klan in America: Lecture and Artifact Show and Tell with Mike Zohn of TV’s Oddities

Lecture and Show and Tell with Mike Zohn of TV’s Oddities
Date: Friday, April 4

Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $8
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

A few years ago, Mike Zohn of TV’s Oddities found, at his local flea market, a bizarre panoramic photograph (dated 1925) showing a huge group of delegates from the Delaware chapter of the Ku Klux Klan posing–in full costume–in front of the U.S. Capitol building. Not long after, he came across a motion lamp from the same time period depicting the flaming cross emblem of the K.K.K.. These two artifacts led Mike to ask a number of questions: what was the story with this particular group of Klans Men, and what were they doing posing in front of the Capital building? And how could it be that the infamous icon of murderous intolerance–the flaming cross–could have become the subject of a prosaic, commercially sold motion lamp almost as if it The Klan were just another club such as the rotary club or the masons?

This lecture and show and tell will recount Mike’s surprising discoveries when he began to investigate those questions, and will cover the history of the Klan in America, the scopes monkey trial and the battle over evolution in the U.S.A., D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, and the changing face of the Klan over the years as documented by these artifacts.

This is the first lecture of a monthly series in which Mike Zohn will present and speak about peculiar objects drawn from his personal collection.