• Ulrik López, Summon Song I (detail), Mayan screaming vase, 2018-2019. Object replicas, fabricated archeological site, and sound. Courtesy the artist, with support from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.

  • Laura Huertas Millán, Journey to a land otherwise known (still), 2011, single-channel video
    (color, sound), 23 min. © Le Fresnoy – Laura Huertas Millán.

  • François Bucher, detail Archival print from The Second and a Half Dimension, printouts, letters, single channel video, book, video, 9:00 min. Installation view at the House of World Cutures. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Laura Huertas Millán, Aequador (still), 2012, single-channel video (color, sound), 19 min. © Le
    Fresnoy – Laura Huertas Millán.

  • Felipe Steinberg, In God We Trust, 2013, gold dies of a five dinar coin. Courtesy of the artist.


February 6 - May 18, 2024

Michael Rakowitz, The invisible enemy should not exist – Seated Nude Male Figure, Wearing Belt Around WaistOn a desk within the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, an old stuffed parrot guards a small library and a vast, yet obsolete ornithology collection. An excited young scientist reads a story on the origins of the desiccated animal to entertain a group of visitors: it may have been the last "speaker" of a dead Indigenous language from colonial Venezuela or a German prince's precious gift to the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. There is no clear understanding which of these versions, if any, might be true.

Curated by David Ayala-Alfonso, Never Spoken Again: Rogue Stories of Science and Collections is a traveling exhibition that reflects on the birth of modern collections, the art institutions that sustain them, and their contingent origin stories to reveal a universe of erasures, violence, and fortuity. Considering how institutional collections organize our lives, Never Spoken Again brings together artists whose works open up a critique of material culture, iconography, and political ecologies.

In turn, each of the works sheds light on myths, simulations, fake currencies, war games, and the slow violence of systematic racism that historically underpin collecting practices. Together, they invite inquiry into how our collective histories are presented, curated, fabricated, or all of the above. With wit, curiosity, and compassion, Never Spoken Again asks the question most museum visitors dare not: How did these objects and artworks get to a gallery in Vermont anyway? And why?

In complement to Never Spoken Again, the Fleming Museum of Art's Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Kristan M. Hanson, has incorporated commissioned, loaned, and existing works from the Museum's collections. From a panel of stone carved in relief which once decorated the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II's (r. 883–859 BCE) palace to a newly printed 3-D Copy of the Bust of Nefertiti (2023), the exhibition further expands and enriches the Fleming's ongoing efforts to interrogate its collecting histories and implement impactful changes in museum practice.

Visitors will have several opportunities to delve deeper into the exhibition, including two hour-long screening events featuring video artworks from Never Spoken Again as well as a public tour guided by Hanson and the Fleming's Manager of Collections and Exhibitions, Margaret Tamulonis. Visit the Events and Programs page for full details.

Top Left Image | Michael Rakowitz, The invisible enemy should not exist – Seated Nude Male Figure, Wearing Belt Around Waist (IM77823) (Recovered, Missing, Stolen Series), 2018. Middle Eastern packaging and newspapers, glue, cardboard, 96 x 73 x 73 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Barbara Wien Gallery.


Red-lored parrot

William Everard Balch (United States, 1854–1919), attributed to Edward Gerrard and Sons England, ca. 1850–1967. Red-lored parrot (Amazon autumnalis), late 19th cen. Courtesy of the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium  Z02346

Richard Ross (United States, b. 1947), Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France,

Richard Ross (United States, b. 1947), Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France, from Museology, 1982. Ektacolor Plus print. Gift of the artist 1987.19.1

Copy of the Bust of Nefertiti, 2023

University of Vermont FabLab (United States, opened 2012). Copy of the Bust of Nefertiti, 2023. Resin, 3-D printed. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Attribution: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Courtesy of the UVM FabLab


Never Spoken Again: Rogue Stories of Science and Collections is a traveling exhibition curated by David Ayala-Alfonso and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI). It is the result of a new series of programs, pioneered with the support of the Hartfield Foundation, aimed at providing opportunities to alumni of ICI’s Curatorial Intensive as they move through the stages of their career, and reflecting ICI’s commitment to fostering and championing new curatorial voices who will shape the future of the field. Never Spoken Again is made possible with the generous support of ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum. Additional support for Erkan Öznur’s participation is provided by SAHA. The presentation at the Fleming Museum of Art has been organized in collaboration with Kristan M. Hanson, the Fleming’s curator of collections and exhibitions. Crozier Fine Arts is the Preferred Art Logistics Partner.

Artists: Morehshin Allahyari, Maria Thereza Alves, François Bucher, Giuseppe Campuzano, Alia Farid, Sofia de Grenade, Laura Huertas Millán, Ulrik López, Carlos Motta, Erkan Öznur, David Peña Lopera, Claudia Peña Salinas, Michael Rakowitz, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Reyes Santiago Rojas, Daniel R. Small, and Felipe Steinberg.