In Search of a Myopic’s Leitmotif – Ryan Taber + Cheyenne Weaver

In Search of a Myopic’s Leitmotif is a research-based project considering the influence of two of Germany’s nineteenth century intellectuals on opposing sides of the passage from enlightenment to romanticism; Alexander Von Humbolt and Richard Wagner. By following lines of political and pedagogical influence throughout Europe and South America, we find a taxonomic survey of early 19th century Coleopterists on parallel tours through their own malaria.

The exhibit consists of two parts. Five drawings, reminiscent of field etchings, reveal the biology of the politics in which these species were rendered. In the front of the gallery, a giant piece of Cinchona bark covered with a licheniferous growth sits on the ground in a prone position. Poised underneath and inside this hollow log, lays the remains of Wagner’s festival theater.

The sculptural bark is modeled after field illustrations of Cinchona collected in the early eighteen hundreds upon European realization of its medicinal properties. The extraction of Quinine from this species make these illustrations significant both to the myopic rigor of classification and as a sign for the potential of colonialist expansionism. The bark in the installation is reanimated by an infestation of a newly settled colony of live Dermested museorum linneaus beetles, who devour everything in sight, leaving the rhythmic drone of an ariatic stutter as their pageant.

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