Is the yearning for a lost paradise a human universal? And is it always doomed to failure? In what ways do our attempts to create a paradise on earth backfire? Is there always, truly, a serpent in the garden? The new, seven-part series Utopia / Dystopia, presented by Hauser & Wirth Publishers in association with Morbid Anatomy, commences with Dystopian Amusements, a conversation and screening exploring attractions and amusements that draw on the macabre for inspiration.
For this event, writer Jane Rose will lead a discussion on the Buddhist Hell Gardens of Thailand, followed by a screening of apocalyptic film shorts selected by filmmaker Ronni Thomas, as well as a talk by former Coney Island Museum artist-in-residence Joanna Ebenstein on death- and disaster-themed amusements at Coney Island.
Utopia / Dystopia will run through March 2018. Future events include:
With Asti Hustvedt, Brian Cotnoir, and Massimo Introvigne
Wednesday 15 November, 2017, 7 – 9 pm
Accidental Dystopia: El Helicoide – From Mall to Prison
With Celeste Olalquiaga
Wednesday 6 December, 2017, 7 – 9 pm
Joanna Ebenstein is a Brooklyn-based writer, curator, artist, and graphic designer. She is the creator of the Morbid Anatomy blog, library, and event series, and was the cofounder and creative director of the recently shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum, in Brooklyn. She is the editor of the forthcoming book Death: A Graveside Companion (Thames & Hudson, 2017); author of The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death, & the Ecstatic (DAP, 2016); and coauthor, with Dr. Pat Morris, of Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy (Constable & Robinson, 2013).
Laetitia Barbier is an independent scholar and art historian. She has worked with Morbid Anatomy since 2010, and was programming director and head librarian at the recently shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum, in Brooklyn. Her published work has been featured in a variety of outlets, from Punk fanzines to Vice magazine, the website Altas Obscura, and Morbid Anatomy. Her essay on visionary painter Joe Coleman’s private oddities collection will be published in The Doorway to Joe: The Art of Joe Coleman (Cernunnos, 2018), and she is at work on a book on the contemporary iconography of Jesus Christ. Laetitia lives in Brooklyn.
Writer, filmmaker, and weird horror fan Jane Rose has for several years helped filmmakers in and around New York City bring their ghoulish visions to life via her special fx makeup work, while her own films have been screened at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon, the Coney Island Film Festival, and other venues.
Ronni Thomas is a filmmaker and artist from Brooklyn. His short-subject films, most of which profile characters who inhabit macabre and esoteric spaces, have received critical acclaim worldwide.