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New Museum’s Department of Education and Public Engagement presents Ensayos: Passages, its first online artist residency, foregrounding the department’s year-round commitment to contemporary art and pedagogy centered on personal and social growth. The international collective Ensayos (translated as “inquiries”, “essays,” or “rehearsals” in English) will develop and present new work through this digital residency.

Ensayos is a collective research practice enacted by artists, scientists, activists, policymakers, and local community members. Sustaining their focus on the ecopolitics of archipelagos for the past decade, they have developed distinct inquiries into extinction, human geography, and coastal health. Their New Museum residency will be multifaceted, including a web series, podcasts, public programs, and an experimental performance.

Initiated in Tierra del Fuego, Chile, an archipelago known for its remoteness, biodiversity, and extreme conditions, Ensayos first focused on past and present issues impacting the region at the southern tip of Patagonia. In recent years, various configurations of Ensayos practitioners have explored the shared and localized extremes of the land, water, and life of archipelagos on three additional continents, including inquiries in Eastern Australia, Norway, and New York.

During their New Museum residency, Ensayos will open their intimate methodologies to a larger public. Their deep investigations consider collective identity, colonial history, multispecies communication, Aboriginal law, and the ethics of care in relation to wetlands, the sea, and coastlines. In order to contemplate ecological health from the microscopic to the global, the New Museum program will focus on how storytelling can offer possibilities for connection across remote geographies and diverse ways of experiencing the world.

Through a series of private online rehearsals, Ensayistas are developing the ecofeminist drama Cucú and Her Fishes. The New Museum will premiere Act I, an online production, in September. Several scenes of Ensayos’s speculative play will unfold simultaneously, as performers and participants find sensual and poetic methods of connecting and communicating about ocean health. The title and format are inspired by Fefu and Her Friends, a feminist play written and originally produced in 1977 by iconoclastic Cuban-American playwright María Irene Fornés (1930-2018). 

Each month Ensayos will share a different practice and mode of storytelling with the public, including the Season Two premiere of the webseries DISTANCIA, a short-form, episodic reflection on property, representation, and belonging set in Tierra del Fuego; a divination card reading with contributors to a new issue of their periodical Más allá del fin/ Beyond the End, #3.5; and the release of their first series of podcasts Hydrofeminist METitations, three audio works that blend journalism, fiction, and guided somatic exercises.

Lead Ensayistas for the New Museum residency are Ensayos founder and director, curator Camila Marambio (Papudo, Chile) and artist Christy Gast (Amenia, New York), with Aboriginal legal scholar Dr. C.F. Black (Gold Coast, Australia), artist Ariel Bustamante (La Paz, Bolivia), artist Caitlin Franzmann (Brisbane, Australia), educator Sarita Gálvez (Naarm/Melbourne, Australia), artist Søssa Jørgensen (Skiptvet, Norway), art historian Carla Macchiavello (Santiago, Chile), sociologist Denise Milstein (Harlem, New York), Selk’nam activist Hema’ny Molina (Santiago, Chile), artist Randi Nygård (Oslo, Norway), dance-artist Amaara Raheem (Black Range, Australia), ecologist Bárbara Saavedra (Santiago, Chile), artist Carolina Saquel (Paris, France), curator Karolin Tampere (Lofoten, Norway), anthropologist Michael Taussig (Brooklyn, New York), artist Geir Tore Holm (Skiptvet, Norway), ichthyologist Lynne Van Herwerden (Magnetic Island, Australia).



Premieres Monday, June 15

DISTANCIA, a short-form video series, is created to be broadcast online and uses fictive and sensual qualities to illuminate connections between humans and a fraught landscape. DISTANCIA, Season Two, contemplates life in and with Tierra del Fuego, countering narratives that presume meaning should be sought primarily through scientific observation, ethnographic documentation, and geographic analysis. 

Watch here

Ecofiction at the End of the World

Tuesday, June 23, 2 PM EDT

This conversation on DISTANCIA, Season Two, will focus on ethical dimensions of storytelling and situated identity in relation to the landscape and feature Carolina Saquel and Camila Marambio, who imagined and realized the web series set in Tierra del Fuego; Ariel Bustamante, sound artist; and anthropologist Michael Taussig. Their statements, illustrated with clips and images, will bring together different perspectives on representation, sensorial multi-species ethnography, and the difficulties of witnessing the witness: themselves. The participants will discuss to what degree it is possible to give up the power of framing and revising self-image in postproduction.

Anthropologist Michael Taussig, who also appears in the series, will respond and continue the conversation from the perspective of his unconventional scholarship, which challenges the authorial colonial violence of ethnographic study and its claims to objectivity.

RSVP required. Register here for this program.

Hydrofeminist METitations Listening Series

New episodes launch July 20, July 27, and August 3

Drawing from Ensayos’ transdisciplinary work, this podcast series will focus on waters in different archipelagic regions, including Tierra del Fuego, New York, Eastern Australia, and Norway. The episodes are structured in four movements that mirror different aspects of Ensayos’ field research: fiction, fact, somatic exercise, and water care ethics. Each concludes with a song. 

Fortunes of the Forest: Divination, Dance, and Story

August 18, 8 PM EDT

Fortunes of the Forest is a participatory performance that encourages slowness, plant knowledge, movement, listening, observing, and response-ability. Drawing from her divination card deck (created with collaborator Man Cheung’s botanical photographs of plants, rocks, and insects found in the urban forest of Karawatha, Australia), artist Caitlin Franzmann is joined by aboriginal legal scholar Dr. C.F. Black and dancer Amaara Raheem to respond to the cards and audience questions. This program celebrates the launch of Ensayos’ online periodical, Más allá del fin/ Beyond the End, issue # 3.5.

Cucú and Her Fishes, Act I. Premiere

Tuesday, September 1, Screenings at 6 AM, 2 PM, and 8 PM EDT

Ensayos’ experimental ecofeminist drama Cucú and Her Fishes casts their undisciplined research methods into cyberspace. Sharing a passion for ocean advocacy, nine characters drive the performance as they plan a second expedition to the bottom of the sea.

Ensayos: Passages is organized for the New Museum by Emily Mello, Associate Director of Education, and Andrew An Westover, Keith Haring Director of Education and Public Engagement.

Ensayos is a collective research practice initiated on the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego in 2010. Ensayos’ issue-based research methodologies arise from archipelagic delirium and are characterized by their sensuality and precariousness. Drawing on the existing conservation initiatives in Tierra del Fuego (WCS Parque Karukinka, Caleta Maria, and the Selk’nam Corporation Covadonga Ona), Ensayos insists on experimental practices that entangle artistic and social science methods with the environmental research efforts already underway. Though Ensayos first focused solely on the ecopolitical issues impacting the Fuegian archipelago and its inhabitants –past and present, human and nonhuman– now, other archipelagos have come into view (Northern Norway, Australia, New York, and Sri Lanka). Ensayos (inquiries or rehearsals in English) is a global exercise in emergent forms of bio-cultural ethics


New Museum, 235 Bowery, New York, NY

June 15–September 15, 2020

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