The Carptactacle is a spectacle of conversation, a slow-motion scientific-social happening that consisted of artistic research in search of/resisting a single thesis. Our investigation into non-native carp in the Mississippi River sifted through questions of resource stewardship, global migration, conceptions of nature, intersections/overlaps of art and science, and the social constructions of language, among others. Our activities have included visits to points along the Mississippi, reflective conversation and writing on the development of artistic collaboration that holds hands with science, and the handling/mishandling of the bodies of a notorious gang, the many species in the family Cyprinidae that comprise the so-called Asian Carp. To date, we’ve presented our research as a carp dinner, live presentations teasing out public appetite for this conversation, and a video, 10,000 Ways to Eat a Carp, which was aired on tpt Channel 2 as part of Works Progress Studio’s TV Takeover program in 2014. We initially framed our research as building toward a public art convening with performances and projections, set upon the trope of a giant community fish fry.
Below is a still from the live in-studio introduction to the airing of 10,000 Ways to Eat a Carp. We made carp masks and the audience performed for the cameras as a school of invasive carp. (Photo: Christine Baeumler)