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Introduction
Objects of the Misanthropocene: Unearthing Futures

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Octagon Gallery, Wilkins Building
University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

 

26 September 0002022 CE – 10 February 0002023 CE

Free entry, Open daily 09:00–19:00
Closed Christmas - New Year

Objects of the Misanthropocene: Unearthing Futures is a speculative exhibition inspired by fictional accounts of the Anthro­pocene that aims to generate a sense of wonder in caring for our planet now.

 

It is the latest iteration of the ‘Objects of the Misanthropocene’ project, which was initiated in 2019 and continues to evolve through a series a series of conversa­tions and co-produced events hosted by the Illegal Museum of Beyond.
 

The exhibits on display in the Octagon Gallery are predominantly from the Illegal Museum of Beyond, fabricated by project participants from UCL (Institute of Archaeology, Slade School of Fine Art, UCL Museums and Collections), Goldsmiths University Department of Design, independent artist Fran Crowe (the Museum of Beyond), the Architec­tural Association, and the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies at the University of Gothenburg.

Objects of the Misanthropocene: Unearthing futures, curated by Dean Sully & Jo Volley in collaboration with UCL Museums and Cultural Programmes, would like to thank all project participants, contributors, artists, makers and curators of UCL Museums for their creative input.

 
​Find out more about the origins, inspiration, and contributors behind the making of this exhibition below.​​
Navigate through our display walls
to find out more about

the MisAnthrpocene.
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Wall A 

A (Mis)Anthropocene beyond Humans

Click the image to read curatorial interpretations

33103 A Portrait of An Unidentified Robot (2).jpg
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Wall B

Surviving in the Alternative Ruins

Click the image to read curatorial interpretations

Wall C

Sunken Future, Forsaken Past
Click the image to read curatorial interpretations

building bricks.jpg
33110 Fossilized Marbled Mannequin Specimen (15).JPG

Wall D

Misunderstanding the (Im)Material Heritage

Click the image to read curatorial interpretations

Wall E

At the Digital Moment
Click the image to read curatorial interpretations

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Project background

Recent global environmental changes suggest we have entered a new human-dominated geological epoch. Having left the Holocene, we have now entered the Anthropocene.

The Anthropocene describes the most recent period in Earth’s history in which human activity has generated irreversible planetary transformations at multiple levels (climate change, biodiversity, composition of the atmosphere, oceans and living organisms).

Currently, researchers across UCL are working together to respond to this geological phenomenon. Through the virtual school ‘UCL Anthropocene’, projects from across the social sciences, arts, humanities and natural sciences have been assem­bled to explore what the Anthropocene means for our collective futures.

Among these projects is ‘Objects of the Misanthropocene’, conceived as a transdisciplinary experi­ment in speculative practice by Dean Sully during his time as Scientist in Residence at the Slade School of Fine Art between 2019 and 2021. The ‘Mis­anthropocene’ is characterised by the rapid and irreversible alterations to the climate and global depletion of resources caused by humans. The concept signals a cautionary tale about the catastrophic implications for all life on Earth of our present inaction.

At the core of the project are the inevitable misinterpretations involved in attempts to understand other worlds. The reality of the time travelling exhibits relies on the credibility of the proposed futures, and the believability of the exhibits to a contemporary audience. This maintains a suspension of disbelief about the objects in presenting the histories of futures already long passed but which have not yet existed. Speculative methods of embracing both fact and fiction are critical tools to shape more hopeful futures.
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