2019 Projects
The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge: An Unfinished & Incomplete Inventory of Extinctions in the People’s Republic of China | Tessa Zettel / 天朝仁学广览:中国物种灭绝的一份不完全清单 | Tessa Zette


‘Each time an existence disappears, it is a piece of the universe of sensations that fades away.’

-- Vinciane Despret, ‘Afterword: It Is an Entire World That Has Disappeared’,

in Thom van Dooren, Deborah Bird Rose and Mathew Chrulew (eds.), 2017, 

Extinction Studies: Stories of Time, Death, and Generations


Biologists suggest we are now entering the sixth mass extinction event since complex life evolved on earth. Extinction however, is no singular phenomenon, but rather is ‘experienced, resisted, measured, enunciated, performed and narrated in a variety of ways to which we must attend’ (van Dooren, Rose and Chrulew). With increasing heat, pollution and toxicity putting pressure unevenly on all forms of life, how might we now learn ‘to live and die well with each other in a thick present’, as Donna Haraway puts it? What does it mean to cohabit with other species in such a thick, entangled present, where multiple times overlap and intersect, and those of many entities and assemblages as we know them are approaching an end? What are the politics, poetics and affects of more-than-human finitude? And how to collectively acknowledge or commemorate the loss to our own ‘universe of sensations’ when one piece of it disappears?


During six months in residence at IFP, Australian artist Tessa Zettel has hosted an extinction club study group as a way to think together with local participants on these and other questions. Over a series of irregular meetings and field trips, the group recorded a mini-cassette library of their extinction-related readings – covering amongst other things fossil nihilism, passenger pigeons, database aesthetics, de-extinction and cosmoecologies – that is now ready to be shared.


The Extinction Club Reading Group forms part of research for a longer-term project by the artist to make a handmade, riso-printed book + cassette about extinctions in China, telling speculative stories of a variety of nonhuman (animals, birds, gastropods) but also technologies, language sand ways of living) facing permanent erasure. Many curious tales of past and impending loss weave through this rapidly transforming landscape, like the 80-million-year-old pangolin (the most illegally-trafficked and only fully-scaled mammal); the functionally extinct baiji or Yangtze river dolphin, and the Père David deer, once extinct in China but today flourishing again in Beijing’s Nanhaizi Park. Borrowing its title and categories from the fictional Chinese encyclopedia in Jorge Luis Borges’s short story, ‘The Analytical Language of John Wilkins’, the book is a kind of delirious compendium describing how different beings, ecologies and histories are entangled together in webs that are both material and ethical, and borne across time and space by the dynamics of colonization, extraction and exchange. Its cassette tape component will include sound pieces by contributing artists responding to figures of extinction here in China, from the dǎkǒuor cut-out CDs (Yan Jun, China) and a certain thing (Ake, China) to the prehistoric Chinese paddlefish (Jaakko Junnila, Finland).


IFP and Tessa Zettel invite you to see and hear this collective work-in-progress at IFP’s Black Sesame Space. With tea, texts, sounds and black sesame snacks.


Project blog: http://oumopo.com/extinctionclub/


This project was assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.



——Vinciane Despret,“后记:消失的是整个世界”,

收录于Thom van Dooren,Deborah Bird Rose和Mathew Chrulew(编)



生物学家认为,我们正在进入自地球上演化出复杂生命形态以来的第六次生物集群灭绝。然而,灭绝不是单一的现象,而是以种种我们必须到场的方式被“经验、抵御、计量、声明、表演和讲述”(van Dooren,Rose和Chrulew)。所有的生命形式不均衡地背负着气候变暖、污染和毒性物质所造成的压力,我们如何才能学会——如唐娜·哈拉维(Donna Haraway)所说——“在厚密的现实中彼此相安地生活和死去”? 在如此厚密、纠缠的当下——多重的时间相交叠和交叉,我们所知道的许多生命实体和组合正在走向灭亡——与其它物种共栖意味着什么?超越人类界限的政治、诗学与影响是什么?以及,当其中一个切片消失时,我们如何集体承认或纪念我们自身“感官宇宙”的缺失?


在IFP驻地的六个月中,澳大利亚艺术家Tessa Zettel主持了一个灭绝俱乐部阅读小组,以这种方式与本地参与者一同思考这些问题或其它。在一系列不定期的聚会和田野调查中,该小组录制完成了一个迷你磁带库,其中收录了他们一起读过的灭绝相关的文本——主要涵盖了化石虚无主义、旅鸽、数据库美学、去灭绝与宇宙生态学。



该长期项目将制作一本关于中国物种灭绝的孔板印刷(risograph)的手工书,附一个磁带,思辨性地讲述关于各种面临灭迹的非人类物种(动物、鸟类、腹足动物)以及技术、语言和生活方式的故事。许多奇妙故事和即将到来的消亡在这一剧烈变化的风景中穿梭,像有着八千万年历史的穿山甲(被非法贩运最多的、也是唯一全身批鳞的哺乳动物);功能性灭绝的白暨豚或长江豚,以及曾经在中国绝迹,如今在北京的南海子公园重获新生的麋鹿。借用博尔赫斯短篇小说《约翰·威尔金斯的分析语言》(The Analytical Language of John Wilkins)中虚构的中国百科全书的标题和目录,这本书将是一种谵妄的概略,描述不同的物种、生态和历史如何在物质与伦理的网络中纠缠,承受重重殖民、攫取和交换。随附的磁带将收录参与项目的艺术家们对于中国的灭绝情形的回应,从打口碟(颜峻)、某物(Ake,中国)到史前中国白鲟(Jaakko Junnila,芬兰)。


IFP和Tessa Zettel邀请您来黑芝麻空间,观看和聆听这一进行中的集体项目。茶、文本、声音和黑芝麻点心。

项目博客: http://oumopo.com/extinctionclub/





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