PostNatural History n.
1. the study of the origins, habitats, and evolution of organisms that have been intentionally and heritably altered by humans.
2. The record of the influence of human culture on evolution.
[Center for PostNatural History, accessed 18 October 2022, <https://www.postnatural.org/]
On Friday, October 14th, 2022, Nadine and Edlyn were invited to attend the vernissage of the exhibition "Artificial", at le Pénitencier, in Sion. The former penitentiary-turned museum since 2000, showcased over twenty stories of organisms that have been intentionally and heritably altered by humans over time. Some familiar stories we know of include the domestication of animals; others can be more surprising, such as the breeding of goats that are genetically engineered to produce spider silk in their milk. Each story has its own cell with preserved specimens and other objects on display. A small description (who, when, where, how, why) is written on the wall, while the full story can be heard with an audiopen. Outside each cell, a one-worded banner hung on the door to denote the human purpose behind such alterations, such as for productivity, experimentation, aesthetics, and selection to name a few.
The "Artificial" exhibition is a collaboration between the Valais Museum of Nature and the Center for PostNatural History in Pittsburgh, US, the latter started the curation of postnatural organisms. At the start of the exhibition, visitors encounter a "cabinet of curiosities", where visitors are put to the test, to find out which organism among the displayed specimens has not been intentionally altered by humans. "The cabinet is a preview for what's to come before visitors continue their journey up the stairs," says Gil Oliveira, the scientific curator for the exhibition. "Our purpose is to tell a collection of stories about the complex interplay between human and nature, without taking any sides. We want to create a place where visitors can explore postnatural history through story-telling of the many postnatural beings that lived and continue to live amongst us."
Gil Oliveira is creating a Museum of PostNatural History in Switzerland. Any person interested in the topic is welcome to contact him (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The "Artificial" exhibition runs until 14.05.2023.
For more info and upcoming events related to the exhibition: