The Terrarium Project, 2006
mixed media installation
Collaboration with Crystal Mowry as Liminal Solutions, including contributions from Denton Fredrickson, Andrew T. Hunter, Rebecca Duclos and David K. Ross, Gail Singer and Eric Roesler
This exhibition featured several unusual terrariums presented as living artifacts collected by a fictitious scientist (Mary Manis) which had been donated to a fictitious institution (The Manchester Letherium). Contents and stories were created for each terrarium in collaboration with a group of writers, artists and horticulturists. The project meshed the aesthetics of factual authority, found in museums and institutions, with that of the wonder-filled worlds created by storytellers who regularly trade fidelity for an enhanced presentation.
Through the use of wall texts and audio narrative (as provided by Mary Manis’s whispered voice), visitors were led through the exhibition and its contents. A photograph of people at a 1919 picnic, found among Manis’s donated items, acted as a connecting point for the curious characters in the exhibition, whose “archives” formed the basis of the Manis collection, including a child with degenerative blindness and an obsession with collecting glass objects; a herbalist involved in experiments with a psychotropic plant collection; and a pair of scientists who experimented with the relationship between sound and plant growth, leading to an outbreak of moss in their laboratory.