PAMM, Cannonball unite to provide art exhibition, lecture series

Arts / Article

A new collaboration between Pérez Art Museum Miami and Cannonball Miami aims to provide some clarity in the face of one of the biggest challenges confronting South Florida: climate change.

“I think a lot of the themes that we are going to be covering as a part of this initiative will have resonance with Miami,” said PAMM curator Rene Morales. “I anticipate we will be dealing with issues of deforestation, scarcity of water and ecological sustainability in the 21st century. The kind of knowledge that we’re going to be producing in this installation will be very useful and interesting given the local context.”

Marjetica Potrč

Titled “The School of the Forest: Miami Campus,” the project, designed by Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrč, portrays a brightly painted, open-air wooden pavilion emulating those found among Amazonian forest communities, which the artist discovered while researching the Brazilian state of Acre. The concept will focus on sharing the knowledge of rural communities.

“It was the idea that people of the forest are not just the objects of the study, but they are subjects of knowledge,” Potrč said. “It was about sharing knowledge between scientists and local communities.”

The exhibit also features a series of lectures covering deforestation in the Amazon and parallel fears relevant to South Florida, including food scarcity and flooding. The Thursday night lectures will occur in PAMM’s auditorium. The following Friday afternoons will offer seminars, which will involve open discussions in the structure itself. Potrč handpicked the speakers involved, the majority being anthropologists from all over the world.

“My hopes are that local individuals will participate and share their own perspectives and knowledge based on living here,” Morales said.

Collaborations between Cannonball and PAMM aren’t new, but the new project marks an evolution to a more formal relationship between the two institutions, both of which are supported by Knight Foundation. With Cannonball’s research.art.dialogue program, the artist will hold a course for 17 students from the program that delves deeper into the problems Miami will face.

“Marjetica is going to teach a course with us on urban farming,” said Gean Moreno, Cannonball’s artistic director. “She is interested in personal initiatives dealing with food autonomy … and understanding what is happening on that frontier and what could happen 50 years from now.”

The school intends to generate open discourse in abstract, theoretical space, contrasting the formal settings of establish educational institutions. Potrč’s course will allow students to get more hands-on involvement in the community.

“Her students have to research three sites, and have some kind of urban culture initiative on them that are not corporate or commercial,” Moreno said. “They are going to create a bank of knowledge with the idea of generating some kind of booklet where all these things can be recorded and passed around.”

The goal is to create awareness of the knowledge of rural areas, which will be critical in developing sustainable strategies for the future. Urban farming, Potrč believes, is essential in the preservation of Miami’s natural state. When the exhibit closes in August, PAMM will distribute the disassembled natural materials of the structure to local urban farms to further support Potrč’s sustainability mission.

“It is very important not just to talk, but to really make change you have to do something,” Potrč said. “We need to see the knowledge of the rural communities … It is the shared knowledge that matters for the future.”

Alec Schwartzman is an editorial intern for Knight Foundation. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @AMSchwartzman.