Lucien Castaing-Taylor

Lucien Castaing-Taylor

John Cowles Professor of Art and Anthropology
Director, Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL); Director, Film Study Center
Co-Director of Graduate Studies, Critical Media Practice
Lucien Castaing-Taylor

On leave Spring 2021

Castaing-Taylor is an anthropologist whose work conjugates art's negative capability with an ethnographic attachment to the flux of life and a engagement with the pressing ecological and political challenges of our day. His works include In and Out of Africa (1992, with Ilisa Barbash), a film about authenticity, taste, and racial politics in the transnational African art market, Sweetgrass (2009, also with Barbash), an unsentimental elegy at once to the American West and to the 10,000 years of uneasy accommodation between post-Paleolithic humans and animals, and Canst Thou Draw Out Leviathan with a Hook? (2012—2016, with Verena Paravel), a four-part project about humanity and the sea, and our plundering of marine resources. Leviathan (2012), Still Life/ Nature Morte (2014) and eleven of his other works were included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. In 2015, together with Ernst Karel and Verena Paravel, he completed the large-scale installation Ah humanity!, which takes the 3/11/11 tsunami and nuclear disaster in Fukushima as its point of departure and reflects on the fragility and folly of humanity in the age of the so-called Anthropocene. His most recent works, commissioned by documenta 14, are somniloquies (2017, with Paravel), Commensal (2017, with Paravel), and Caniba (2018, with Paravel). Castaing-Taylor's work is in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art and the British Museum, and has been exhibited at Venice Biennale (2010, 2017), documenta 14, Tate, Barbican, Centre Pompidou, Whitney Museum of American Art, PS1, MoMA, MASS MoCA, MAMM Medellín, Whitechapel Gallery, London's Institute of Contemporary Arts, Berlin Kunsthalle, Shanghai Biennale (2014), and Aichi Triennale (2017). His films and videos have screened at Berlin, Locarno, New York, Toronto, Venice and other film festivals. He is currently at work on a project about medical imagery, anatomy, and the politics of healthcare, set in Paris’ public hospitals.


Ernst Karel, Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Ah humanity! (2016)

Image: Ernst Karel, Véréna Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Ah humanity! (2016).