Image: Anna Craycroft, Storyboard: Animating Personhood, 2017. Ink on paper, 20 × 36 in (50.8 × 91.4 cm). Courtesy the artist
The Spring 2018 R&D Season: ANIMATION explores contested definitions of personhood. Questions of who and what qualifies as a person have become increasingly contentious as the agency of all beings—from animals and ecosystems to corporations and artificial intelligence—has fractured legal and theoretical discourse. The words “animation” and “animal” are derived from the same Latin root, animare, which literally means “to give breath to.” This season considers the physical and philosophical lenses used to construct and qualify personhood, and asks how beings object to their place within a legal, cultural, and political order.
Operating across various presentational and pedagogical formats, this season is anchored by a residency with artist Anna Craycroft, who will transform the Fifth Floor Gallery into a site for producing an animated film that she will develop over the course of her exhibition “Motion into Being.” Visitors will physically enter the stage where Craycroft will shoot new footage every week for the duration of the residency. Drawing on traditions of folklore and fables, which often use anthropomorphism to narrate moral tales, Craycroft’s stop-motion animation film will premiere at the New Museum in May.
Organized by the New Museum’s Department of Education and Public Engagement, R&D (Research and Development) Seasons connect projects across multiple platforms around a new organizing theme each fall, spring, and summer. Seasonal themes are generated by artists-in-residence, and the department’s collaborations with artists lead to exhibitions, performances, conferences, screenings, publications, after-school programs for teens, Family Day activities, and archival research. Anchoring the Museum’s dedication to expanded forms of knowledge and cultural production, each theme is wide-ranging and limber, rather than illustrative; participating artists, scholars, and curators raise topical questions and often test thematic limits.