Saturday, July 11, 2020
US flag

Animism comes to the Art Institute of Chicago

A new exhibit that contains several helium-filled, fish-like shapes, with weights attached so they hang at different heights, opens on February 3 at the Art Institute of Chicago, The Maroon Online reports.

Arts and entertainment editor Manic Gamebreaker at the student newspaper for Argo Community High School in Summit, Illinois, says Philippe Perreno’s exhibit, entitled “My Room Is Another Fish Bowl,” will give each person who returns to see the exhibit a new experience, because the fish “move aimlessly around and are affected by the air currents of the gallery, natural light from windows, the time of day and weather projected through the windows, and the entrance and departure of each viewer.”

Manic points out that Mr Perreno uses a theme of animism—the idea that inanimate objects may have a hidden consciousness, spirit, or soul within them—in much of his work, including this latest exhibit, which runs through April 15. In art and words, Mr Parreno has frequently posed the question: “Is an exhibition a film without a camera?” the Art Institute wrote.


Mojave pottery in New Mexico calls to us (Voxitatis)

Animism is a centuries-old tradition in art and literature. Mr Perreno has since about 1992 been exploring the philosophical category of “quasi-object,” which challenges the belief that our world is divided into two spheres: the human sphere and the objective, factual sphere.

Taken outside the world of art and literature, however, animism impinges on our individual psychology to some extent. Many people still hold onto some belief that inanimate objects have an impact on our lives, a curated animism exhibition in 2012 underscored. We explore in Mr Perreno’s exhibit, once again, how art not only mirrors life but influences life. There’s something very deep about helium-filled fish.

Animism “has continued to pose, despite all attempts at scientific explanation, a serious riddle to Western epistemologies, and also a provocation to our embodied everyday perception and rationality,” writes the e-flux artist’s project about their exhibit in New York. “That inanimate objects and things act, that they have designs on us, and that we [humans] are [formally called upon] by them, is a quotidian reality that we all implicitly accept—just as we accept, and indeed are animated by, the very milieus and contexts in which we operate.”

Animism asks, but doesn’t answer, the question: Are we all in the grips of magical thinking?

It’s not only about skeletons dancing in a 1929 Disney cartoon, about trees talking in a novel set in Middle Earth, about Mr Perreno’s fishbowl, or even about the supernatural behavior shown by our cars on occasion. Rather, it is about Western thought and the influence of beliefs—logically known to be incorrect or, at least, unproven in the scientific literature—on our lives.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Voxitatis congratulates the COVID Class of 2020

2020 is unique and, for high school graduates, different from anything they've seen. Proms, spring sports, & many graduation ceremonies are cancelled. Time for something new.

Vertical addition (m3.nbt.2) math practice

3rd grade, numbers and operations in base 10, 2, 3-digit vertical addition practice problem

Rubber ducks (m3.oa.1) math practice

3rd grade, operational and algebraic thinking, 1, rubber ducky modeling practice problem

Distance learning begins as Covid-19 thrives

What we learn during & from coronavirus, a challenging & imminent crisis, will provide insights into so many aspects of our lives.

Calif. h.s. choir sings with social distancing

Performances with the assistance of technology can spread inspiration across the globe even as the coronavirus spreads illness and disease.

Families plan to stay healthy during closures

Although schools are doing what they can to keep students learning and healthy during the coronavirus outbreak, that duty now shifts to parents.

Illinois temporarily closes all schools

IL schools will be closed on Tuesday, March 17, through at least March 30. Schools in 18 states are now closed due to coronavirus.

Coronavirus closures & cancellations

Many schools are closed and sports tournaments cancelled across America during what the president called a national emergency: coronavirus.

Coronavirus closes schools in Seattle

The coronavirus pandemic has caused colleges to cancel classes, and now Seattle Public Schools became the nation's first large district to cancel classes due to the virus.

Most detailed images ever of the sun

A new telescope at the National Solar Observatory snapped the most detailed pictures of the sun's surface we have ever seen.

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.