Containers of Curiosity – Eden Zinchik

Containers of Curiosities is a part of an ongoing design investigation undertaken by Eden Zinchik into the narratives, built spaces, and modes of knowledge creation within natural history museums. This particular exploration focuses on how natural history museums (intentionally or unintentionally) implicate values on Nature’s beings and systems through the design and language of their displays? Through a partnership with the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, Containers of Curiosities began to take shape. An experiment in display design with a narrative focus on the relationship between introduced (non-native) and invasive species as a result of the global trade economy.

A species is only considered “invasive” when it is actively causing harm to the existing ecosystem, otherwise, once established, a non-native species is simply referred to as introduced or adventive. Invasive species are commonly villainised in media and pop culture. This fear-mongering is often counterproductive. Plus the current model of dealing with invasives in BC is mass eradication, which is borderline impossible with established species, especially with smaller creatures such as insects. In the case of port cities like Vancouver, there are countless such species here due to global trade paths and transportation such as cargo ships.

Invasive species are nothing but a symptom, a side effect, of a globalized economy. This statement is the core of the exhibit, using shipping containers as a recognizable symbol for global trade and the travel paths of many of our consumer goods.

Eden Zinchik (she/her) is an international researcher, designer, and artist (respectively) and a recent graduate with a BDes in Industrial Design at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada. Her work is varied and trans-disciplinary and tends to flourish at the intersection of nature, design, science, and culture, with strong themes of critical ecology, identity, and experimental futures.