Call for Contributors


‘The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge: An Incomplete Inventory of Extinctions in the People’s Republic of China’ // Work-in-Progress // Tessa Zettel (of the Extinction Club Reading Group)

The project

A handmade artist book about extinctions in China, telling speculative stories of a variety of nonhumans (animals/birds/fish) but also technologies, languages and ways of living which are either extinct here or facing extinction in the near future. Taking its title and structure from a Jorge Luis Borges short story about taxonomy (‘The Analytical Language of John Wilkins’), the book is a kind of delirious encyclopedia describing how different beings, ecologies and histories are entangled together in webs that are both material and ethical. It will include line illustrations and written stories (in English and Chinese). The book will be risograph-printed in an edition of around 40 copies, each sewn by hand and accompanied by a small ceramic object – an imagined future fossil – linked to one of the book’s figures of extinction.

Sound component

Every copy of the book will also come with a cassette tape that contains sound pieces recorded by artists in response to specific figures of extinction in China. What does an absence sound like – how to interpret and acknowledge the disappearance of something forever? This could involve using specific objects or materials to produce sounds, or recording in locations connected to that character, to habitats now transformed, using archival recordings, or just feeling it out using whatever means etc. The pieces can be as short or long as desired, keeping in mind the duration of a cassette tape, and depending on how many contributors we end up having. So far we have contributions from for example Yan Jun (China) and JS Junnila (Finland).

You could choose a figure like the baiji/Yangtze river dolphin; the pangolin (the world’s most trafficked animal); the Chinese paddlefish; Junzi imperialis, a new species of extinct gibbon recently found in a noblewoman’s tomb; Pere David’s deer/milu (extinct in the wild but with a captive population returned via Europe); the Yangtze giant softshell turtle (the world’s largest and rarest freshwater turtle); an extinct Chinese language or instrument, and so on… Background information about these characters and others can be supplied. You may of course have other ideas for how to translate different kinds of extinctions into sound 🙂


In January 2019 I will have a first exhibition at IFP’s Black Sesame Gallery, showing in-progress materials from the research process. The exhibition will include a small cassette library of audio-book style recordings made during meetings of the Extinction Club Reading Group, and a cassette player on which people can listen to them. Another tape player will be available in the space for people to listen to selected sound components of the artist book. A second exhibition will be held later in 2019 showing the finished book+tape. There is scope for performances during both these exhibitions.

+ Contact me for any further info, or if in Beijing, drop by IFP (Heizhima Hutong 13) for a cup of tea to discuss! ++

* * 号召——协同创作* *



这是一本关于“灭绝”在中国的艺术家手工书,讲述了各种非人类(动物、鸟类、鱼类),也包括技术、语言与生活方式的故事,它们或已灭绝于此地,或在不久的将来面临灭绝。它采用了豪尔赫·路易斯·博尔赫斯(Jorge Luis Borges)关于生物分类学的短片小说(《约翰·威尔金斯的分析语言(The Analytical Language of John Wilkins)》中的标题与结构,将成为一部谵妄的百科全书,描绘了不同的存在、生命是如何在物质和伦理之网中彼此交缠不清。本书包含了线条绘画与写作故事(中英文),采用孔版印刷,总计约40版,每本均由手工线装并随附一件与书中灭绝对象相关的小瓷器——某种想象中的未来化石。


该书的每一版也将伴随一盒磁带(和书的尺寸一样),其中包括艺术家为回应书中特定灭绝对象而录制的声音片段。我感兴趣的是“缺席”听起来是什么样的——如何解释和承认某事永远消失?它可能包括使用特定的物体或材料来产生声音,或者在与该对象相关的地方录制,到现在已经改变的栖息地、利用档案录音,或仅是使用任何一种手段来感受它等。这些片段有长有短,取决于意愿,要记住一盒磁带的总时长,以及取决于我们最终有多少贡献者。到目前为止,我们已经有来自比如颜峻(Yan Jun,中国)和雅克·朱尼拉(Finland,芬兰)的参与。

你可以选择一个对象,例如白暨豚/长江江豚;世界上贩卖最多的动物穿山甲(尚未灭绝,但受到了严重威胁);中国白鲟;最近在一个贵族女性的坟墓中新发现的灭绝的长臂猿;佩雷·大卫(Pere David)鹿或麋鹿(野外灭绝,但仍有从欧洲再次引进的豢养种群);或者是长江中华鳖(世界上最大、最稀有的淡水龟);一种濒危的中国语言或乐器;等等。我可以提供一些关于这些我正在研究的对象的信息和背景。当然,可能你还有其他的主意来将不同类型的灭绝转译成声音!



+ 更多信息请联系我,或者来激发研究所(黑芝麻胡同13号)喝杯茶+