Axel Straschnoy:The Permian Extinction
Exuberant life and tragic death are both signs of the Permian Period. The same can be said of the Museum of Natural History.
The city of Perm gives its name to the Permian Period, a geological era spanning from 299 to 252 million years ago. The extremely rich period ended in the biggest mass extinction in history, an event that has been compared to the ongoing sixth mass extinction. Caused by human activity, the present wave of species extinction has accelerated rapidly since the start of 20th century and has reduced the biodiversity of the planet in unprecedented ways.
The Permian Extinction is based on research carried out by Axel Straschnoy in the Perm Regional Museum and its collections in 2018. Like many natural history museums, the one in Perm had previously presented animals in dioramas. When the dioramas were discontinued, the stuffed animals were stored in former office spaces where they gave rise to unlikely and unnatural combinations of biotopes and predator-prey configurations. Today many of these animals are either endangered or extinct, and the storage facilities depicted by Straschnoy have become their new natural habitat.
Straschnoy became interested also in a paradox of life-preserving death associated with the museum in Perm. The museum was infested with museum beetles (Anthrenus museorum), an insect that threatens zoological and entomological collections. The beetles are exterminated regularly, and at Straschnoy’s request the museum began to gather exterminated insects into a separate new collection.
The exhibition in Turku Art Museum consists of lenticular images, photographs and volkonskoite, a green pigment derived from a clay-bearing sandstone, used by Russian painters and even Picasso. Volkonskoite formed in the Permian Period, and is found in the Perm region. The exhibition is accompanied by a book that will be released in the spring.
Axel Straschnoy (born 1978) is a visual artist from Buenos Aires, based in Helsinki. His work deals with the social practices surrounding objects of knowledge. His long-term, research-focused projects span planetarium films, performances, film installations, editions, traveling exhibitions, museum collections and VR films. He is interested in expeditions: literal and metaphorical, scientific and artistic.
This exhibition is generously supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, The Finnish Cultural Foundation and Vladimir Potanin Foundation. It is produced by Kolme Perunaa.
Thanks: Perm Regional Museum; Yuliya Glazyrina, Head of the Natural History department; Larisa Zhuzhgova, Head of the Natural History Collections and Evgeniya Vyguzova, zoological collection curator.
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