The Short Forever


The Short Forever


October 20 – November 10, 2017


A collaboration between Phoebe Chin, Andrew Yang, Jeremy Bolen, and Kayla Anderson.


A notion:

We have entered a new geological period - the Anthropocene - in which human activity is the dominating biogeochemical force on the planet. Through trash, radiation, dust, plastic and so many other means we’ve inscribed ourselves into that large archival and encyclopedic volume called Earth.

And so this particular now becomes now forevermore, unerasable punctuation that irrevocably alters the meaning of every word within the larger planetary text. The Yangtze river dolphin, smallpox, the dodo, polar bear, passenger pigeon, Tasmanian wolf, Neanderthal – so many sharp exclamat!ons followed by  par(e)nth(e)ticals,  some trapped and others newly absent  (  ), ((   )),  ( --- )  :(      

How are we to classify what was, what is, and what will be in the mess of nature-turned-culture-turned-future?

From 1952 to 1959 “Animal, Mineral, Or Vegetable?” was a popular BBC quiz show, a television version of the traditional parlor game. The objects in question came from famous museums and collections and expert archaeologists and historians were set to puzzle on the what any given thing “was.”  Seeming versus being, origins and unoriginals.

You are an animal! (but really you are) – a cousin of the pheasant, ancient fish, and the abalone too. Maybe it is extra effort to think of yourself as a plant, but if you were raised in the United States on a typical modern diet, then over 50% of the carbon that makes up your body found its way to you by corn - syruped, popped, or hamburgered. As for mineral, the iron of blood and calcium of bones say it all. 

Anything is everything else mixed together and life is a lived hybridity. The blurry boundlessness that congeals into an identity for a meanwhile is carved out with the knives of races, classes, teams, nations, sexes, first names, and fan clubs.  We keep track now only with the guarantee that all tracks will be lost later; thank metabolism, and thank entropy too.  All of our things are cataloged in the library of the short forever.

-Andrew Yang

Table Of Contents


1. Plastic reflective foil 

2. Gray Packing foam

3. Box book: time, Amara Leipzig, 103.54

4. Magazine image of oil on water

5. Found color electrical wire

6. White “packing peanuts”

7. Vintage Radium clocks 

8. Steel Slinky

9. Dish sponge (in the shape of an anthropomorphized egg)

10. Model of glucose molecule

11. Knowledge, Morality, and Destiny, Julian Huxley

12. The Universal Handbook

13. All the Stories, Dora García, Z27.42

14. Acoustic foam (nubby landscape)

15. Crooke’s Radiometer (the thing reacting to the light)

16. Yellow plastic tetrahedron


1. Buddha figurine

2. Taxidermied pheasant

3. Codex Seraphinianus, Luigi Serafini, RA 1.194

4. Pinned Grasshoppers

5. Silkworm cocoons

6. Things Get in You, Megan Diddie, 31.27

7. Stained & cleared frog specimen

8. Stained & cleared fish specimen

9. Fossil fish

10. Marine shell

11. The Time is Now, Melody Sumner, 101.5 (Storage)

12. Alligator claw

13. MB_Matrix Botanica: Non-Human Persons, Melanie Bonajo, 40.45

14. Wooden sculpture of a llama

15. Wooden sculpture of a  horse

16. Dark Continent, Tom Gleeson, 8.43

17. US National Park map

18. Zebra skin

19. A Thing Called Time, Julieta Aguinaco & Iván Martinez, 10.31

20. Metal sculpture of a horseshoe crab


1. Defective Carrots, Tim Smyth, 98.19

2. Dried gourd

3. Found cut tree fragment

4. (A very different) found cut tree fragment

5. Stack of round colored paper 

6. Indigo plant seed pods

7. Paper wasp nest paper

8. Ceramic plantains, Phoebe Chin

9. Ceramic bananas, Phoebe Chin

10. Evergreen branch

11. Redwood tree seed cone

12. Phoebe's first memory of pinecones, requested by Kayla and printed on a yellow piece of paper

13. The Plants, Time/Life Books

14. Dried houseplant leaf

15. Cactus shaped pen

16. Artificial succulent plant floret

17. Every Artificial Plant and Flower in my Mother’s House, Jessica Taylor, 5400.8

18. Petrified wood

19. Wax candled shaped as a cob of yellow corn

20. Pollinate/Pollute, Megan Diddie, RA 2.496

21. Dried red corn cob


1. Book of Dust: The Beginning and the End of Time and Thereafter, Agnes Denes, RA 2.552

2. Vintage Radium clock

3. Watercolor of Jupiter’s moon Io

4. Marine shell

5. Observations of Foreign Objects in a Remote Town, Benjamin Freedman, RA 2.752

6. Iron meteorite from Campo de Cielo, Argentina

7. Geode fragment on a wrist pad

8. MINE. an Asset-light existence, Romy Kießling and Veronica Wüst, 95.98

9. A piece of parking lot wrapped in ABS plastic

10. Future Reliquary No. 1 (Plaza Blanca Rock), Kayla Anderson

11. Ostrich egg

12. Intruders : reflections on art and the ethnological museum, Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, ABR/REF N72.A56 I58 2004

13. Abalone shell

14. Porcelain cast of a turkey wishbone 

15. Found concrete wrapped in iridescent tape

16. Soapstone sculpture of acoustic foam

17. Paper & watercolor rock replicas

18. Piece of mica mineral

19. (Another) Vintage Radium Clock 

20. Ray, Susanne Kriemann, 3.66

21. In the Unrelenting Light at the Edge of Conscience, Ann Tyler, RA 3.165





A collaboration between Phoebe Chin, Andrew Yang, Jeremy Bolen, and Kayla Anderson., “The Short Forever,” SAIC Flaxman Library & Special Collection Exhibitions, accessed May 27, 2020,