Objects of the Misanthropocene: Unearthing futures

26th Sep 2022  -  10th Feb 2023
Octagon Gallery

Free. Closed Christmas – New Year.

Sent back in time from distant futures, the objects in this Octagon Gallery exhibition were unearthed from a remarkable crash site discovered during the construction of the UCL Student Centre in 2012. What they reveal is set to revolutionise our understanding of the past, future and time itself.

Through painstaking forensic investigation, a team from the UCL Institute of Archaeology has identified that the crash site contained the remains of a time-travelling vehicle carrying objects from a future museum. Was the museum attempting to send the objects back to us as a warning?

Curators from this future museum present us with nematode worms put to work by humans, a pocket-sized T-rex worshipped by an extinction cult, and a gilded horn controversially removed from the last unicorn. Other objects reveal the harsh realities of the Survival Lottery, in which only the winners receive sufficient resources to survive, a planning application by a family of potato migrants, human-fungi hybrids, representing a new and resilient stage in human evolution, and edible human meat.

These discoveries come at a time in which the world is grappling with the implications of entering the Anthropocene, the geological epoch in which humans have irreversibly altered Earth’s climate and caused the depletion of resources on a planetary scale.

The unearthed objects reveal what lies in store for us. They announce what the excavation team now term the ‘Misanthropocene’, our future world ravaged by apocalyptic damage, unable to sustain human futures.

This exhibition presents these extraordinary finds to the public for the first time, as a provocative message sent back from the edge of the Anthropocene.

Read about the origins of this extraordinary project

Find out more about the Illegal Museum of Beyond


Free events programme

Notes to Future Worlds from a Common Past
Tuesday 15 November, 7-8pm
Grant Museum of Zoology

Using storytelling, objects and sound, this performance will animate the common threads that have passed through large upheavals and breakthroughs such as the first uses of growing and wilding practices in deep history or the uncertainties of living within 'The Anthropocene'.

Slade Lunchtime Lectures: Dr Dean Sully - The Illegal Objects of the Misanthropocene Exhibition
Wednesday 16 November, 1-2pm
Object-Based Learning Lab

Dean Sully will reflect on the making of the Objects of the Misanthropocene exhibition. He will consider the tensions between the individual voice of the artist and the corporate identity of the institution.

Invented Futures Lab: Common and Uncommon Futures
Wednesday 16 November, 3-5pm
Object-Based Learning Lab

What kind of knowledge, systems and capabilities do we need to imagine and build alternative futures? This workshop uses extracts, writing prompts and provocations to ask: What is a common future? How does the Anthropocene unite geological and local futures?

More events to be announced.


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