Museum for the Cultures of Bodies
Professor: Ross Adams
Studio Title: Museum for the Histories of Nature: Toward an Anamorphic Architecture
Violence and restraint have historically been imposed on bodies through institutions and systems of extraction, imperialism, and slavery. The oppression of minority bodies and bodies of inferior classes has been perpetuated by systems that restrain individuality and impropriety to allow the succession of economic systems of competition while perpetuating systematic violence against nature. These mechanisms morphed into a massive misappropriation of wealth and resources and led to a domination of the global environment by carbon emissions in parallel with the control of the existence of bodies.
In the context of climate change in the 21st century, as it seems our natural systems and atmospheres are collapsing, what do bodies have to grasp onto in this new state of perpetual crisis? The previous connotations of social structures will be forced to change, as many individuals are already reshaping their psyche in response to prevalent chaos rhetoric. Bodies must find new ways to exist and to adjust in order to be freed from the previously constricting and terrible notions of behavior, dress, and sterilization of imperialistic societies that instigated the extortion of nature and bodies for capital.
The geologic timeline of North America reveals that Miami’s subsurface is made of a fragile limestone created through the decomposition of coral. This fragile geology is what makes Miami area so vulnerable to flooding, despite many attempts to fill the land up with material and infrastructure to make it more inhabitable.
Our museum will cut into this natural landscape. Because the limestone is porous and the water table lies just six to nine feet below the surface, it will present the systems of nature within the isolated, conditioned environment of the convention center. The water table will rise up to form pools of water within the stepped spaces, providing spaces for people to exist in this created microclimate in the middle of the convention center. This is an embrace of the warming climate, a new space of traditional physicality – a bath – to be claimed by the residents of Miami.
Artifacts like paintings, historic clothing, and instruments of bodily restraint will be displayed in various ways throughout the museum. They may reside on walls, podiums, or underwater, and will be exposed to the created microclimate to expose to deterioration. These an-artifacts are not an erasure of these histories, but a connection between the destruction of the old societies and the allowance for a new occupation of bodies of an inherently capitalist space. While normally artifacts in the context of a museum are appropriations, these artifacts are from the appropriators of natural bodies, placed into a critical position.