Le Museé du le Grand Dehors
location: Various, Krabi Province, Thailand
date: 2013 - ongoing, 2018 Thailand Biennale
type: sculpture, research
role: collaborator/designer with Sara Black and Amber Ginsburg
"Le Museé du le Grand Dehors (The Museum of the Great Outdoors) is a sculptural work that uses a tree as the conceptual lens through which we critically examine and expand our experience of western, human-centered notions of ‘nature’ and environment. The title is drawn from the philosopher Quentin Meillassoux of the speculative realism movement, who refers to le grand dehors as that which reaches outside of possible human perception or knowledge. Many continental philosophers, particularly in the lineage of Kant, argue that human knowledge systems are the center of what is knowable and even “real,” because humans are the only beings capable of dimensional perception/consciousness. It is our interest to generate a work that glimpses the edges of our knowledge by expanding a single form into deep time."
Our museum as sculpture took the form of a small mysterious building clad in raw, smoked rubber shingles, interrupted by a fallen rubber tree from a nearby rubber plantation. When the tree intersects the museum, it transforms to pure carbon having been charcoalized at the nearby charcoal kilns. On the other side of the museum, the rubber tree canopy continues. Along the way, museum "didactics" label the parts of the tree and forest with reminders of the geological time frames we exist within. Once inside the museum, the didactics stop and the visitor is immersed in a cave-like carbon interior. Lit only with 3 tunnels of natural light, the interior is made up of stucco coated with carbon paint made from crushed charcoal.
Additional programming took place in the form of Forest University. From Amber's website:
"Begun in the Than Bok Khoranee National Park, as part of Le Musee de Grand Dehors and the 2018 Thailand Biennial, the Forest University has hosted conversations with artists, art historians, forest educators, forest managers, indigenous activists, Muslim and Buddhist thinkers in conversations designed to illuminate and contemplate the relationship between humans and the forest. In these conversations, we consider deep time as it persists in carbon, an element that is essential to all life forms and that ties all beings and things together through the larger planetary carbon cycle.
“We are stardust, we are golden we are billion year old carbon.” -Joni Mitchell
January 12, 2019 – How the Forest Speaks and the Many Ways we Listen with Ajjana Wajidee (Noona), Nurhisam Binmamu (Sum Nara Nara) and Rungrueang Rahmanyah (B’Nee)
January 13, 2019 – The Indigenous Forest with Chumsak Nararatwong
January 19, 2019 – Thinking with Carbon in the Neecrone: Art and Living Our Dying with Jill Casid, author of Sowing Empire: Landscape and Colonization
January 20, 2019 – Buddhism and Forest Conservation with Sulak Sivaraksa"
Lead Curator: Jiang Jiehong
Assistant Curator: Palin Ansusinha