Natural Histories

Traces of the Political

The exhibition, Natural Histories: Traces of the Political examines connections between nature and history that avoid an ahistorical understanding of nature and a naturalized image of history. It is about nature as a historically and culturally determined space and concept, and an idea of history whose course and development should not be equated with the logic of natural process.

The presentation spans the period from the 1960s to the present, beginning with works of conceptual art that reflect on both the conditions of artistic production and reception and also their social dimensions and critiques of history. Artists of the next generation draw on the traditions of critiques of colonialism and of society, and transfer and update these into their own contemporary environments.

Depictions of nature also play a role in works that look at issues like genocide or internment, flight, and resistance in the context of totalitarian systems and military conflicts. A further theme is the transformation of public and historical places by natural processes. Nature claims everything back and becomes a sign of historical change.

Exhibiting artists include: Joseph Beuys, Matthew Buckingham, Marcel Broodthaers, Mark Dion, Stan Douglas, Candida Höfer, Sanja Iveković, Christian Philipp Müller, Hélio Oiticica, Lois Weinberger, Christopher Williams, and others.

Published on the occasion of the exhibition, Natural Histories: Traces of the Political at mumok (Museum moderner Kunst), Austria, 23 September 2017 – 14 January 2018.

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