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09 Jun 2009

Futurefarmers at Contemporary Museum, Baltimore

© Courtesy Amy Franceschini, Futurefarmers.

The Reverse Ark exhibition at the Contemporary Museum.

The Reverse Ark: In the Wake


On view through August 22, 2009

Museum Hours:
Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5:00 p.m.


100 West Centre Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

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The Contemporary Museum will serve as gallery, laboratory, workplace and studio to explore the social and environmental history of Baltimore’s mills and textile industry in the site-based exhibition The Reverse Ark: In the Wake, on view through August 22, 2009.

Using the concept of an “ark” as a place of preservation and exploration, the San Francisco-based Futurefarmers art collective created a multidisciplinary exhibition that explores culture, science, and the environment. Created using locally-sourced waste and surplus materials including fallen trees, hundreds of floorboards from abandoned row homes, cast-off paper, and surplus clothing and textiles, The Reverse Ark fills the museum with literal and figurative illustrations of Baltimore’s industrial past.

Works in The Reverse Ark mimic nautical elements with interactive components. A massive loom resembles a sail, which visitors can help weave to completion. A printing press, also doubling as a sail, invites visitors to fasten stamps to their feet and press letters onto surplus newsprint. Oars fashioned from harvested floorboards and mounted through the museum walls can be rowed, while a ladder made from reclaimed wood creates the illusion of a mast.

Community involvement was integral to the creation of The Reverse Ark, for which Futurefarmers put out a call for donations of recycled items for use in the exhibition and volunteers to assist in building the ark. This engagement is continued in The Reverse Ark Schoolhouse. In the tradition of free schools and with a shared curiosity about learning, The Reverse Ark Schoolhouse hosts public workshops, readings, and discussions in an exploration of the environmental themes of the exhibition.

Photographic and video documentation in the exhibition illustrates the process of creating The Reverse Ark. The exhibition also features a survey of past Future Farmers projects, including sculptural objects, portable experiment kits, and web-based works produced over the past decade.

Concurrent with The Reverse Ark, the Contemporary Museum is also presenting works by artist Hugh Pocock, in the complementary exhibition My Food My Poop. The exhibition is the result of a 63-day experiment during which the artist weighed all the food and drink he consumed, and the waste he eliminated in an analysis of human consumption and energy production.

The Reverse Ark
: In the Wake is supported by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.

The exhibition will be on view at the Contemporary Museum with continual community programming through August 22, 2009.

For more information on the exhibition and the Contemporary, visit

About Futurefarmers:

Founded in 1995, the Futurefarmers art collective brings together multidisciplinary art practitioners from across the world aligned through an open practice of making work that is relevant to the time and space surrounding them. They are teachers, researchers, designers, gardeners, scientists, engineers, illustrators, people who know how to sew, pattern makers, cooks and bus drivers with a common interest in creating work that challenge current social, political and economic systems.

About the Contemporary Museum:

The Contemporary Museum promotes the art and culture of our time by producing and presenting new works, new thinking, and new practices that are immediately relevant.  The Contemporary has earned international acclaim for its thought-provoking exhibitions, innovative programming, and unique collaborations with artists, curators, critics, and members of the community.

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