Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
Gate 3, Kelburn Parade
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

Reading Environments | Shelter: Understory

Reading group

12.00pm 07 March 2024

This week we read excerpts from Becoming Palm, a collaborative text by Simryn Gill and Michael Taussig alongside Thom van Dooren’s A World in a Shell: Snail Stories for a Time of Extinctions. This session will be introduced by Eli Elinoff and paired with work by Susan Skerman and Emerita Baik. 

“I often wonder how people who come from elsewhere find their bearings in their new places. How do we come to see a place? ... Spirits of rocks and trees, and of the very land, the body of the place, that might reveal themselves in warts and bumps that push up through the ground.” — Simryn Gill and Michael Taussig, Becoming Palm, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and Sternberg Press, 2017 (pp.18-41).

“At least while they go on living, these snails hold open the space of the possible.” Thom Van Dooren, A World in a Shell: Snail Stories for a Time of Extinctions, MIT Press, 2023.(p.175-190)

Reading Environments is a reading group open to all, for reading, listening and thinking together. Hosted by Su Ballard (Art History), Bonnie Etherington, and Adam Grener (English Literatures and Creative Communication), Reading Environments brings together academics, students and interested members of the public to delve into and discuss current work in the Environmental Humanities that helps us navigate the changing environmental contexts of the planet.

On the occasion of Folded Memory a special series of Reading Environments | Shelter runs across five Thursday lunchtimes pairing art works from the exhibition with selected readings.


Excerpts are available for those attending the reading group by emailing.

Meet in Lower Chartwell gallery.

Photograph of suspended perpex panels with images of plants screenprinted on

Emerita Baik, Journey through my universe (detail), 2021, silk, sateen wool, cotton, denim and recycled polyester filling, on loan from the Collection of Massey University Te Kunenga Ki Pūrehuroa. Installation view, Folded Memory, Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, 2023. Photo: Ted Whitaker.