Katie Paterson, The Cosmic Spectrum, 2019, spinning disk, printed vinyl, motor. Photo by Manu Palomeque. © Katie Paterson 2022. Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York

Katie Paterson, The Cosmic Spectrum, 2019, spinning disk, printed vinyl, motor. Photo by Manu Palomeque. © Katie Paterson 2022. Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan, New York

Exhibition

MYR

Multimedia artworks harness the vastness of time to explore humanity’s impact and longevity on Earth.

Deep time—the vast stream of non-human history that has shaped our world—collides with timely and evident human crises in the multimedia exhibition MYR. The artists on view bring science and speculation together to explore how deeper visions of space and time relate to contemporary existential anxieties, particularly the imminent climate emergency. Taking its title from the unit of measurement equaling one million years used in earth sciences and astrology, MYR presents diverse creative approaches to depicting the intersection of time, space, and life. The result thoughtfully de-centers humanity and instead places Earth as the protagonist of its story.

Guest curated by Elizabeth Thomas, MYR assembles artworks in a wide array of media that leverage science and technology to see through and beyond the Anthropocene—the current epoch in which humans have had dominant control over the environment. Speculative landscapes by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and Candice Lin depict scenes of abundant flora and fauna—both on and beyond Earth—that might thrive in the absence of humanity. Tomás Saraceno’s floating sculpture Zonal Harmonic 1N 100/9 draws on a unifying gravitational model to offer the possibility of ecological harmony. Katie Paterson considers how the abstract essence of deep time can be envisioned through text, scent, and kinetic sculpture. Running concurrently in the Screening Room are six short films that explore related subjects including interspecies affinities, human histories of exploitation, and Indigenous futures. These works collectively complement and expand themes of metaphysics and the natural world found in MYR and throughout the McEvoy Family Collection. 

FEATURED ARTISTS

Sophia Al Maria
Amy Balkin
Heather Dewey-Hagborg
Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
Rhonda Holberton
Candice Lin
Cannupa Hanska Luger
Katie Paterson
Tomás Saraceno
Miriam Simun
Cauleen Smith
Jenna Sutela
Sissel Marie Tonn

ABOUT THE CURATOR

Elizabeth Thomas is a Bay Area-based writer and curator with an interest in cross-disciplinary commissions across institutional and public contexts. Formerly the Director of Public Engagement at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, she organized a retrospective of Anna Halprin’s work and a large-scale orchestral work with Roscoe Mitchell. As MATRIX Curator at BAMPFA, Thomas worked with Trevor Paglen, Jill Magid, Futurefarmers, Ahmet Ogut, and Tomás Saraceno, among others. Public projects include Michael Rakowitz’s performance and radio show, Radio Silence, and Katharina Grosse’s Psychylustro, a five-mile painting viewed along a train corridor. The former Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at Carnegie Museum of Art and Curatorial Fellow at Walker Art Center, she has also organized exhibitions for the Andy Warhol Museum, MASS MoCA, and the University of Michigan Museum of Art. She teaches Curatorial Practice at California College of the Arts and previously at the San Francisco Art Institute.

READING LIST

Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World
Marcia Bjornerud
Princeton University Press, 2018

A Natural History of the Future: What the Laws of Biology Tell Us about the Destiny of the Human Species
Rob Dunn
Basic Books, 2021

Tales of Two Planets: Stories of Climate Change and Inequality in a Divided World
Edited by John Freeman
Penguin Books, 2020

The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis
Amitav Ghosh
University of Chicago Press, 2021

Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind
Peter Godfrey-Smith
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
Yuval Noah Harari
Harper Perennial, 2018

Staying With the Trouble : Making Kin in the Chthulucene
Donna J. Haraway
Duke University Press, 2016

Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science
Jessica Hernandez
North Atlantic Books, 2022

Braiding Sweetgrass
Robin Wall Kimmerer
Milkweed Editions, 2013

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future
Elizabeth Kolbert
Crown, 2021

The Order of Time
Carlo Rovelli
Penguin Books, 2017

The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet
Leah Thomas
Voracious, 2022

The Mushroom At The End Of The World: On The Possibility Of Life In Capitalist Ruins
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
Princeton University Press, 2017

Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene
Edited by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan, Nils Bubandt
University of Minnesota Press, 2017

Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive
Carl Zimmer
Dutton, 2021

MYR is guest curated by Elizabeth Thomas.