Crawly Creatures at Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, with former student-board member Julia Kantelberg

This week, the board members of the Environmental Humanities Center got a special guided tour through the exhibition ‘Crawly Creatures’, co-curated by our former student board member Julia Kantelberg, who is now junior curator at the history department of the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum (congratulations, Julia!).

From left to right: Kristine Steenbergh, Jan de Hond, Sjoerd Kluiving, Katja Kwastek and Julia Kantelberg

Together with Jan de Hond, they guided us along the fascinating collection of prints, paintings, sculptures and objects featuring worms, flies, ants, lizards, moths, crickets, beetles… they have assembled. One recurring and fascinating theme, especially concerning today’s Environmental Humanities’ interest in alternative knowledge systems, was the recurrence of the idea of ‘spontaneous generation’. Apparently up until the seventeenth century it was thought that various crawly creatures would emerge directly from the soil, that is without some specific process of reproduction involved.

And on the request of Tomás Saraceno, one of the contemporary artists featured in the exhibition, next to a huge, perfectly lit spider-web sculpture, the work of the spider-inhabitants of the building is finally acknowledged as a work of contemporary art, too.

The exhibition is on view until January 15, so if you happen to be in Amsterdam in the next weeks don’t miss it. Julia, who was responsible for the contemporary art works in the exhibition, also tells a bit more about it in this Guardian interview. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2022/sep/25/amsterdam-rijksmuseum-insects-art

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