Organism Extravaganza at PPL, April 15

April 3, 2023

ALL INVITED!! As a raucous and thoughtful alternative to Tax Day, join us for an afternoon of organism appreciation, land acknowledgement, poetry, music, “crabaoke,” and crafting in homage to the enduring horseshoe crab and their primordial friends. Bask in 450 million years of flora and fauna, built by the hands of hundreds of Modern Humans, currently nestled and dangling in PPL’s atrium staircase. The event is free and open to all — Saturday, April 15 | 1:30 – 3:30 pm.

This forever incomplete public sculpture project was led by Rhode Island artist Eli Nixon and shaped by all who participated. Eli and ‘the public’ transformed cardboard, newspaper, and other recyclables into 450 million years of organisms in an effort to grok (and make more visible) the vastness of horseshoe crab’s time on Earth, as well as the relative recentness of human existence.

From April 2022 – January 2023, Eli worked with participants (ages 9 weeks to 83 years) to sculpt and paper mache almost 100 lifeforms, through an asynchronous yet collaborative process, in which each organism was created by multiple people. Both the process and the product attempt to decentralize colonized notions of time and ownership, upset linearity, revel in impossibility, and reckon with our enmeshment with the more-than-human world. The organisms that evolved to be included in the timeline were chosen by the people who came to the workshops, supported by pictorial references harvested from PPL collections, and completed (sometimes morphing into new forms) by whoever came to the workshops next. Now, it’s time to celebrate this ongoing community accomplishment! Join Us!

More about the Bloodtide project

This project is part of activating Eli’s illustrated proposal for a new holiday in homage to horseshoe crabs, BLOODTIDE, which is available for check-out at the Library. Eli offers Bloodtide as an open source, use-it-when-you-need-it holiday about cultivating awe and generating ‘free time’ (AKA time to get free), toward healing sites of environmental and cultural harm. Eli sees Bloodtide as part of the work of dismantling and building culture. Instead of Hallmark, CVS, and government officials telling us what to celebrate, we can nurture the impulse to gather, to grieve, build, and play together, around a 450-million-year-old beast and what they teach us about duration, immunity, and interconnection.

Eli describes Bloodtide as occurring currently and continuously in the Library, whether patrons realize they are celebrating or not- the way people pause upon entering the Library now, upon needing to pass a weasel and circle an ostrich on the way to the Info Services desk, needing to share public space/time with our more-than-human neighbors. Eli hopes this holiday, as activated by this installation, unsettles us – an insufficient 3D land acknowledgement recognizing that the timeline and the Library sit on the ancestral homelands of the Narragansett, Pokanoket and Nipmuc people, that all of us are preceded by the actions of ancestors. This effort attempts to strengthen relation to the last 450 million years and the last 500 at the same time, to puncture ‘The Man’s’ gaze of time starting when (some) humans got here- to instead provide intergenerational opportunities to connect with each other, our vast shared past and differing points of connection to more recent survival and repair efforts.