Natalie Bell

Natalie Bell is Curator at the MIT List Visual Arts Center and editor or coeditor of several exhibition publications, including Matthew Angelo Harrison (MIT Press).

  • Symbionts

    Contemporary Artists and the Biosphere

    Caroline A. Jones and Natalie Bell

    Essays, conversations, selected texts, and a rich collection of thought-provoking artworks celebrate a revolution in bio art.

    The texts and artworks in Symbionts provoke a necessary conversation about our species and its relation to the planet. Are we merely “mammalian weeds,” as evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis put it? Or are we partners in producing and maintaining the biosphere, as she also suggested? Symbionts reflects on a recent revolution in bio art that departs from the late-1990s code-oriented experiments to embrace entanglement and symbiosis (“with-living”). Combining documentation of contemporary artworks with texts by leading thinkers, Symbionts, which accompanies an exhibition at MIT List Visual Arts Center, offers an expansive view of humanity's place on the planet.

    Color reproductions document works by international artists that respond to the revelation that planetary microbes construct and maintain our biosphere. A central essay by coeditor Caroline Jones sets their work in the context of larger discussions around symbiosis; additional essays, an edited roundtable discussion, and selected excerpts follow. Contributors explore, among other things, the resilient ecological knowledge of indigenous scholars and artists, and “biofiction,” a term coined by Jones to describe the work of such theoretical biologists as Jacob von Uexküll as well as the witty parafictions of artist Anicka Yi. A playful glossary puts scientific terms in conversation with cultural ones.

    • Paperback $44.95
  • Leslie Thornton

    Leslie Thornton

    Natalie Bell, Dan Kidner, and Milan Ther

    The first monograph on important artist and filmmaker Leslie Thornton offers essential, foundational scholarship on her influential work.

    Produced on the occasion of Leslie Thornton's major solo exhibition at the MIT List Visual Arts Center as well as a recent solo exhibition at Kunstverein Nurnberg, this richly illustrated volume is the first monograph on this important artist and filmmaker, offering essential, foundational scholarship on Thornton's influential work in film and video.

    Thornton's early encounters with experimental, structuralist, and cinéma vérité traditions fueled her iconoclastic take on the moving image and gave shape to her practice of weaving together her own footage and voice with archival film and audio. In part through her forceful and dynamic use of sound, Thornton exposes the limits of language and vision in her works, while acknowledging the ways that language and vision nevertheless remain central to scientific discourse and narrative in general. Her work consistently interrogates modes of representation and the violence of looking, pushing beyond critiques of the gaze to consider biases in perception, or the way voice and sound can undermine an otherwise dominant visual narrative.

    • Paperback $35.00
  • Matthew Angelo Harrison

    Matthew Angelo Harrison

    Natalie Bell and Elena Filipovic

    The first monograph on an important young American artist, generously illustrated with color images of his work.

    In his sculptures and installations, Matthew Angelo Harrison (b. 1989) engages with the legacies of racism and colonialism, parsing their contemporary connections to labor in the United States through an evolving visual language. With works that merge manufacturing technologies with the formal concerns of modernism and minimalism, the artist questions ideas of authorship and reproduction. Harrison's sculptures often include found objects—including traditional African figurines and auto industry ephemera—encased in resin blocks. Frozen and entombed, these sculptures appear as strangely haunted minimalist objects, both ancient and futuristic. This generously illustrated volume, published in conjunction with two major solo exhibitions, is the first monograph on an important young American artist.

    Another specter haunting Harrison's work is that of Detroit's defunct auto industry. A native of Detroit who once worked making prototypes in an auto manufacturing plant, Harrison sometimes employs precision machine-tooling techniques that are derived from those used by auto makers. In other works, Harrison replicates rare African masks and sculptures using hand-built, low-resolution 3D printing machines, rendering large-scale forms in wet clay—fragile, imperfect, and subject to glitches. In addition to color photos of Harrison's work and images that illustrate the artist's relationship to Detroit, the book features essays by curators and art historians Jessica Bell Brown and Elena Filipovic, as well as a conversation between Harrison and musician and theorist DeForrest Brown, Jr., led by curator Taylor Renee Aldridge.

    Contributors

    Natalie Bell, Elena Filipovic, Jessica Bell Brown, Taylor Renee Aldridge, DeForrest Brown Jr., Matthew Angelo Harrison

    • Hardcover $45.00