Never Spoken Again: Rogue Stories of Science and Collections


One of the artists represented in “Never Spoken Again: Rogue Stories of Science and Collections,” a traveling exhibition curated by David Ayala-Alfonso, is Puerto Rican artist Beatriz Santiago Muñoz. The exhibition “reflects on the birth of modern collections, the art institutions that sustain them, and their contingent origin stories.” A previous selection was shown at Independent Curators International (ICI) in New York in the exhibition entitled “Humboldt’s Parrot: David Ayala-Alfonso, Carlos Motta and Felipe Steinberg” in March 2019. Here is an essay from Independent Curators International:

On a desk of the private study collection of the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, an old stuffed parrot guards a vast ornithology collection. An excited young scientist reads a story on the origins of the desiccated animal for the purpose of entertaining a group of visitors: it may have been the last “speaker” of a dead indigenous language from colonial Venezuela, or a German prince’s precious gift to the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. There is no clear understanding which of these versions, if any, might be true.

Never Spoken Again: Rogue Stories of Science and Collections is a traveling exhibition that reflects on the birth of modern collections, the art institutions that sustain them and their contingent origin stories. Curated by Colombian curator David Ayala-Alfonso, an alumnus of ICI’s Curatorial Intensive, the exhibition is part of ICI’s new series of programs supporting emergent voices in the curatorial field.

Considering how institutional collections organize our lives Never Spoken Again brings together artists whose works open up a critique of material culture, iconography, and political ecologies. These practices examine not only the collected objects and the systems of distribution that facilitate their circulation but also the disciplines and subjects of study that they trade in.

Variously, the works shed light on myths, simulations, fake currencies, war games, and the slow violence of systematic racism that historically underpin collecting practices. Together they open the field for considering our agency in how our histories and futures may be constituted otherwise.

Never Spoken Again: Rogue Stories of Science and Collections is part of a new series of programs, pioneered with the support of the Hartfield Foundation, aimed at championing emergent curatorial voices by providing opportunities to alumni of ICI’s Curatorial Intensive. The exhibition was selected from among 66 proposals submitted by Curatorial Intensive alumni from over 30 countries.


Artists: Morehshin AllahyariMaria Thereza AlvesFrançois BucherAlia FaridSofia de GrenadeLaura Huertas MillánUlrik LópezCarlos MottaBeatriz Santiago MuñozErkan ÖznurDavid Peña LoperaReyes Santiago RojasDaniel R. Small, and Felipe Steinberg.

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz is an artist based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her work arises out of long periods of observation, research and documentation, in which the camera is present as an object with social implications, and as an instrument mediating aesthetic thought. Her films frequently start out through research into specific social structures or events, which she transforms into collaborative work, performance and moving image. Santiago Muñoz’s recent work has been concerned with the material and physical trace of abstract political ideas, particularly post-military spaces, and the relationship between new landscapes and social forms. Recent exhibitions include: MATRULLA, Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, México City; Under the Same Sun: Art From Latin America Today, Guggenheim Museum of Art; Post-Military Cinema, Transmission Gallery for Glasgow International; The Black Cave, Gasworks, London; Capp Street Project: Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, CCA Wattis; Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Trinh T Minh-Ha & Gregorio Rocha, TATE Film and VII Bienal do Mercosul. She is also co-founder of Beta-Local, an arts organization in San Juan, Puerto Rico and director of Sessions, a series of intensive seminars anchored in the specific geography, emerging art practices, and social and political conditions of Puerto Rico. Recent exhibitions include: The Black Cave, Gasworks, 2013 in collaboration with the Tate Modern, London; A Universe of Fragile Mirrors, Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami, FL, 2016; A Universe of Fragile Mirrors, El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY, 2017. Song, Strategy, Sign, New Museum, NY, NY, 2017. The 2017 Whitney Biennial, New York, NY; and Condo New York, New York, NY, 2017.

[Shown above: A still from Laura Huertas Millán’s film “Journey to land otherwise known.” © Le Fresnoy – Laura Huertas Millán. Second image: Stuffed parrot; see “Humboldt’s Parrot” at]

For original article, see


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