Lurid Ecologies: Ways of Seeing the Bay

Statement from Embark Gallery

Tanja Geis partnered with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) to develop an exhibition responding to their work monitoring, conserving and restoring the San Francisco Bay. For Embark, Geis reimagines the substrates set in the bay for colonization by Ostrea lurida, the native oyster, for a series of phantasmagoric drawings made using mud pigment from the Bay. These drawings are shown alongside a video installation, shot in research tanks at the Romberg Tiburon Center, and a collection of tools used to measure ecosystem health.

Ostrea lurida. Lurid oyster. The etymology of “lurid” is uncertain yet some of its earliest uses referred to the interplay of light and darkness, the aspect of things when the sky is overcast, the color of smoky flames, or perhaps the appearance of sunlight filtered through silty Bay waters. These works consider the vitally important, complex, and often turbid endeavor of SERC’s research, and its techniques and apparatus, to address how scientific and aesthetic framing of complex ecologies inform how we look and what goes unseen.

The restoration of native oysters in San Francisco Bay is part of the Living Shorelines Project which is funded by the California State Coastal Conservancy.