CAMBRIDGE, MA.- Harvard Graduate School of Design
is presenting a new group exhibition curated by architect-researcher Malkit Shoshan. Love in a Mist presents political, artistic, and architectural investigations of fertility, drawing on works by Dr. Rebecca Gomperts and Women on Waves, Joep van Liehout, Yael Bartana, Tabita Rezaire, Lori Brown and Desiree Dolron. The exhibition is on view at the GSD through December 20, 2019.
So-called Heartbeat Laws, the recently introduced abortion-ban bills in states such as Mississippi, Kentucky, and Georgia, provoked Shoshan to investigate the spaces behind attempts to control womens bodies and nature. As she dug deeper, Shoshan discovered a feedback loop consistent throughout modern history: with hormones, steroids, and other forms of biological control applied both to women and to animals, we have generated polar-opposite results in our quest to manage reproductionoverpopulation and super-sized farm animals at one extreme, and extinction, environmental degradation, and the criminalization of womens bodies at the other.
To provoke policy- and progress-minded conversations about a long, contentious history, Shoshan has curated the Harvard exhibition, Love in a Mist (and the politics of fertility), on view at Harvards Graduate School of Design from October 28 to December 20. Shoshans immersive and sensory exhibition shed light on the spaces and politics behind fertility and abortion, presenting a series of political, artistic, and architectural investigations. Viewers will gain new understanding of issues including the use of hormones in womens bodies, techniques to accelerate fertility, and the extraction of natural resources, and abortion.
Shoshan is the founder of FAST: Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory, an Amsterdam- and New York-based think-tank at the intersection of architecture, urban planning, and human rights, with a focus on conflict-affected regions. Alongside books, exhibitions, and designs, Shoshans work includes policy recommendations developed in partnerships with communities, agencies such as the UN, and policy-makers. She brings this acumen to Love in a Mist, presenting her findings in the interest of asking how can we document, make visible, and respond to histories of oppression, and how we might reimagine alternative realities of care.
For Love in a Mist, Shoshan has designed four greenhouses to physically and conceptually house a range of themes, documenting the creation of toxic environments via attempts to police the body, with extinction and fertility unfolding alongside, if not directly causing, each other.
A first greenhouse illustrates the history of abortion, presenting a series of content-rich brochures on Roe v. Wade, Heartbeat Laws, and violence against abortion clinics, alongside visuals of those clinics and policies; a second chamber diagrams the circular and toxic effect of synthetic estrogen, genetically modified food, and other growth-stimulating compounds on bodies, land, water, and air. The creative and physical center of the exhibition presents inflatable, super-sized farm animals with elements of Bernie Krauses The Sound of Extinction, audio recorded in natural habitats over a series of decades that shows vibrant ecological soundscapes diminishing over time, some becoming completely silent. A third greenhouse brings us to today, unpacking the 2019 UN Climate Report and its recommendations to restore human relations with nature, while the final greenhouse is future-minded, drawing from science fiction and fantasy to imagine What ifs, as visualized by works from Yael Bartana, Desiree Dolron, and Tabita Rezaire.
Love in a Mist include works by:
Dr. Rebecca Gomperts and Women on Waves.
Joep van Lieshout (A-Portable, a portable abortion clinic designed for Women on Waves).
Yael Bartana (What If Women Ruled The World?).
Tabita Rezaire (Sugar Walls Teardom).
Lori Brown (Dont Mess with Texas).
Desiree Dolron (Uncertain and Monarch).
As Shoshan observes, Gomperts and van Lieshout illustrate the use of art and activism tools to address and offer safe abortions where abortion is criminalized. Dolrons video works examine ecological systems and species that exemplify the fertility of land and nature. Bertanas work, meanwhile, is more imaginative in its perspective, inviting viewers to synthesize what theyve seen throughout the exhibition and to ask what types of alternative imaginaries we can conceive as a society when confronting a crisis.