Future Fossil

An exhibition by Clarissa Tossin RI ’18

January 31–March 16, 2019

Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery
Hours: Noon–5 PM, Monday–Saturday
Byerly Hall, 8 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Opening reception: January 30, 2019, at 5:30 PM

Woven baskets, based on Baniwa patterns, created from Amazon.com boxes cut in strips with archival inkjet prints of the Milky Way, Mars and the Amazon Rainforest on glossy photo paper.

Images courtesy of the artist.

Clarissa Tossin, a Radcliffe fellow in 2017–2018, expands upon her fellowship project with a newly commissioned exhibition that considers the ecology of an uncertain future. Inspired by Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction trilogy Xenogenesis (1989), in which the Amazon becomes the site for a new civilization of alien-human hybrids, Tossin speculates upon a postapocalyptic world following ecological collapse. Pairing DIY plastic recycling techniques with the materials and practices of Amazonian aesthetic traditions, Tossin highlights the contemporary footprint left in the geological sedimentation of the earth. These new works consider indigenous knowledge in relationship to the environment, while they also resemble ruins of a world yet to come.

Clarissa Tossin is an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles, California. Using installation, video, performance, sculpture, and photography, she investigates material cultural production and the ways in which it simultaneously represents the hybridization of global cultures and the persistence of difference. Her work has been exhibited at, among others, the Blaffer Art Museum, in Houston; the Hammer Museum, in Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; Museum of Latin American Art, in Long Beach; the Queens Museum, in New York; SITE Santa Fe; the Wattis Institute, in San Francisco; Wesleyan University’s Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York. She received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.

Exhibition organized by Meg Rotzel, Radcliffe arts program manager

Future Fossil Gallery Series

 In this series of events held in the gallery, Harvard students, fellows, and staff members from across the disciplinary spectrum respond to Clarissa Tossin’s work. 

  •  Gallery talk with artist Clarissa Tossin and curator Meg Rotzel
    Thursday, January 31, 2 PM
    Please register and join us.

    Clarissa Tossin, a fellow at Radcliffe in 2017–2018, returns to present Future Fossil, a continuation of her work in the Institute’s artist studios. Join the artist and curator for a conversation about the inspiration for the exhibition and the themes that appear throughout. 


  • The making of Future Fossil with curator Meg Rotzel
    Friday, February 8, 12:30 PM 
    Please register and join us.

    Join the exhibition curator and Radcliffe arts program manager for a tour of the exhibition. Participants will gain an understanding about how the materials and techniques used in fabrication of the artworks underpin the various concepts that run through the exhibition. They will also learn how exhibitions are brought to life in the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery. 

  • Octavia Butler reading group with Rachel Vogel
    Friday, March 8, 12:30 PM
    Please register and join us.

    Join a book club–style discussion of Octavia Butler’s science fiction, in which participants are encouraged to bring a copy of their favorite book or passage by the author. Readers will begin in the gallery, where they will listen closely to a recording of Butler in the sound work You Got to Make Your Own Worlds (for when Siri is long gone). They will also engage with major recurring themes found in Butler’s work—such as gender, race, power, technology, and the environment—and discuss how they relate to the works in Future Fossil.


Radcliffe Institute at Harvard Presents Future Fossil, a Newly Commissioned Exhibition by Clarissa Tossin, Inspired by Octavia Butler’s Xenogensis Trilogy