August 18–October 21, 2012
The Objectivity Theater is a sustained reflection on how the construction of “objectivity” operates to condition knowledge; it looks not at what is known, but how something is known. It includes three separate, but thematically connected projects, each of which examines different epistemological traditions through the juxtaposition/misapplication of the research methodologies that inform specific disciplinary practices over time. The goal is to reveal points of productive disciplinary cross-pollination, as well as the fissures that occur when specific practices cultivated within the context of particular fields of research are appropriated and applied to subjects for which they were not intended. In doing so, the projects that comprise The Objectivity Theater question the universal claims of objectivity itself and seek to reveal the relativist foundations of knowledge creation.
The projects draw from a diverse array of empirical methodologies, including the morphological, physiological, and histological traditions emerging out of 17th and 18th-century microscopic practices, which in turn informed criminology and politically sanctioned Eugenics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (The Catalog of Curiosity); 18th and 19th-century practices of specimen collection, identification and categorization from field natural historical investigations combined with contemporary practices of urban cartography and cultural anthropology (The Desiderata Archive); and the laboratory practices of artificial organismic propagation as they relate to art historical analyses of styles, movements and artistic lineages (Culture Cultures). In this exhibition, a strange fruit of disciplinary hybrids emerges, closer in spirit to early alchemical research, with its emphasis not only on what the ultimate subject of knowledge might be, but who is seeking it, how, and to what end.