Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor


Paravel and Castaing-Taylor collaborate as anthropologists in the Sensory Ethnography Laboratory. Their work seeks to conju­gate art’s negative capability with an ethnographic attachment to the flux of life. They are in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the British Museum, and have been exhibited at documenta, the Venice Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate, London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Whitney Museum, the Centre Pompidou, the Berlin Kunsthalle, the Whitechapel Gallery, and PS1. Their works include Canst Thou Draw Out Leviathan with a Hook? (2012—2016), a four-part project about humanity and the sea, including the film Leviathan (2012). Still Life/ Nature Morte (2014) and twelve of their other moving image works were included in the 2014 Whitney Museum Biennial. Retrospectives of their work include Tokyo Image Forum (2015), Film Society of Lincoln Center (2014), Filmoteca Española (2014), and the Viennale (2013). Earlier collaborative works include Sweetgrass (Ilisa Barbash and Castaing-Taylor), a film that offers an unsentimental elegy at once to the American West and to the 10,000 years of uneasy accommodation between post-Paleolithic humans and animals, and Foreign Parts (Paravel and JP Sniadecki), a film that observes and captures the struggle of a contested “eminent domain” neighborhood before its disappearance under the capitalization of New York’s urban ecology. In 2015, they completed a monumental site-specific installation, Ah humanity!, with Ernst Karel, a work that takes the 3/11/11 disaster as its point of departure and reflects on the fragility and folly of humanity in the Age of the Anthropocene. It has been installed at the National Archives of France in the Cour d’Honneur of the Hôtel de Soubise in Paris, and at Josep Lluís Sert’s Science Center at Harvard University. Their latest works, commissioned by documenta 14, are Somniloquies (2017) and Commensal (2017).