facing Extinction

A white cover page with an orange graphic design and the title facing Extinction in black


facing Extinction aims to creatively engage with The Sixth Mass Extinction Event, a topic ‘so enormous, so existentially all-encompassing, so planetary, that it is hard to know whether any kind of feelings – and if so, which ones – are possible, appropriate or recognised’. It was produced in collaboration with partners at University of Leeds and Manchester Museum (part of The University of Manchester) and features new writing by Daisy Hildyard and Anna Souter on human and non-human perspectives, a reflective text by Dominic O’Key and foreword by Lara Eggleton and Stefan Skrimshire.

facing Extinction draws on the Voicing Silence residency led by Liverpool-based artist Laurence Payot, culminating in a holographic video installation exploring the emotional impact of biodiversity loss. Originally designed to engage visitors to Manchester Museum, the COVID-19 lockdown led to an online workshop programme with collaborating artists Scott Farlow, Jon HughesLaura Spark, Stacey Atkinson and Mark Hilditch, involving over 150 participants in the Summer of 2020.

Alongside commissioned writing, facing Extinction features artwork by workshop attendees, including two groups of refugees and asylum seekers invited through Manchester City of Sanctuary and Welcome to English (Hull), home educated children, families and other members of the public invited through an open call. Using creative writing, choreography, animation and music, participants engaged with the topic of extinction across 14 workshops. Their work was the inspiration for a new video work by Payot; find information about touring ‘Voicing Silence’ here.

facing Extinction was produced as part of the wider AHRC-funded project Thinking Through Extinction, the UK arm of an EU-funded consortium, ‘Extinction as Cultural Heritage’. With partners in Norway and Poland, the project explores how museums and galleries are engaging with biodiversity loss, recovery and memory. The facing Extinction microsite was designed by Piper Haywood and Ashleigh Armitage (dust design collective), following a limited-edition print version posted to 150 international recipients in November 2020, also designed by dust.