Theater, Garden, Bestiary

Theater, Garden, Bestiary

A Materialist History of Exhibitions

Research project (2018)

The history of exhibitions is currently undergoing renewed interest. While today the "medium" of exhibition is a producer of specific discourses, and while it offers new practices a stage on which to emerge, it has also become the nexus of numerous institutional neo-positivisms relating to the ontological designation ‘art’. The exhibition, in the search for its reflexive forms (as in the quest for its own modernism) seems to become a genre in its own right. By distancing itself from today's flurry of studies related to curating, this research project will draft a history of exhibitions sourced from a wide corpus reaching beyond the framework of artistic institutions. The research project Theater, Garden, Bestiary: A Materialist History of Exhibitions stems from the wish to consider the exhibition as a genre, and to question its place in an expanded geography of borders and conceptual divides that have historically structured the space of art, and which continue to underlie its situation today. Its aim is to consider anew the genre of exhibition, by grounding it both in the history of modernism and in modernity as a whole, that is, in what one may call the anthropological matrix of modernity: its ontological separations, its epistemic divisions, its political economy, its sense of the negative.

Main applicants

ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
Tristan Garcia
Vincent Normand


Elie During, Anselm Franke, Dorothea von Hantelmann, Pierre Huyghe, Jeremy Lecomte, Stéphane Lojkine, Celeste Olalquiaga, Peter Osborne, Filipa Ramos, Juliane Rebentisch, Joao Ribas, Ludger Schwarte, Anna-Sophie Springer, Olivier Surel, Etienne Turpin, Charles T. Wolfe, Yuk Hui


september 2015 – march 2018

Supported by

ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
Strategic fund of the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES-SO RCDAV)


Tristan Garcia and Vincent Normand (eds.), Theater, Garden, Bestiary – A Materialist History of Exhibitions, Lausanne: ECAL and Amsterdam: Sternberg Press, 2019 (with contributions from Etienne Chambaud, Elitza Dulguerova, Anselm Franke, Tristan Garcia, Fabien Giraud & Raphaël Siboni, Dorothea von Hantelmann, Yuk Hui, Pierre Huyghe, Sami Khatib, Jeremy Lecomte, Stéphane Lojkine, Rafael Mandressi, Vincent Normand, Peter Osborne, Filipa Ramos, Juliane Rebentisch, João Ribas, Pamela Rosenkranz, Anna-Sophie Springer, Lucy Steeds, Olivier Surel, Etienne Turpin, Kim West, and Charles Wolfe)


Interview with Tristan Garcia and Vincent Normand by Filipa Ramos, Mousse Magazine, October 2016.

Théâtre, jardin, bestiaire_01.jpg
Alex J. Rota, « Visitor viewing siamang exhibit, Hall of Primates, 1965 », American Museum of Natural History Library
Talk with Juliane Rebentisch et Peter Osborne (photo: Younès Klouche)
Talk with Chris Dercon (photo: Younès Klouche)


Talk with Anselm Franke and Olivier Surel (photo: Younès Klouche)
Talk with Charles T. Wolfe and Yuk Hui (picture : Jean-Vincent Simonet)