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Moving Natural History Museums


We explore the life of dead bodies through choreography in dialogue with multispecies and sensory ethnography.

At Museums of Natural History, we learn about life through death of the taxidermy object. Understood quite literally, taxidermy stems from the Greek words taxis - ‚order’ and ‚arrangement’, and ‚derma’, meaning ‚skin’. This very basic notion of preparation of nonhuman animal bodies  forms our guideline. As an ethnographer and choreographer, we want to rearrange the relationship of human and nonhuman animal skins. In our interventions - choreographic audiowalks, participative performances, teaching- we explore the gaps between liveliness and stillness, desire and neglect, explosive forces and silent nostalgia.

How are we being moved inside museums and by whom? How do museum walls breathe? Can an extinct animal leave a movement pattern in your body?

As two humans engaged in movement and more-than-human world making, we came ogether to move you, the museum walls around you, and the many other bodies they house.

Who We Are

Susanne Schmitt

Dr. Susanne Schmitt gets caught up in history of science’s stories and more-than human world making. She has worked ethnographically with aquarium designers and written a sensory ethnography of the Deutsches Hygiene Museum. In her installation and performance work she has turned public toilets into dioramas and developed cocktail bars for extinct insects.

Laurie Young

Laurie is a Berlin based Canadian choreographer and dancer interested in the embodiment of unauthorized histories and their representation. Her work brings into focus how relationships are choreographed between human and other than human beings in the theater, museum and city.

with Anna Lipphardt

Anna is Associate Professor at the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology at Freiburg University.  She works on transnational migration, artistic mobility, and takes a critical look on the forensic use of DNA. At Freiburg University, Susanne and Laurie teach practice-based seminars with students from cultural anthropology, art history, history of science, and environmental studies.  


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