Unearth is a collaboration between Sayler/Morris and Christina Seely that began when the artists were Smithsonian Artist Research Fellows at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.. Sayler/Morris and Seely worked for a month out of the National Museum of Natural History at a time that coincided with the dismantling of the iconic Fossil Hall in order to remake it and rename it after the principal donor of the renovation—the infamous climate skeptic and political donor David H. Koch.
The images are alternately bizarre, sad, humorous and poetic. Because the hall still had the dark ambience and dramatic spotlights of an exhibition, the partially dismantled displays seem jarringly intentional, as if this was an alternate reality of the museum, or as if the specimens were actors in a play now taking a break. In many ways, the artists found this state of the hall to be an apt representation of the Anthropocene, as well as a meditation on the constructedness of knowledge and the necessity for imagination in cultivating a true sense of deep time and kinship with non-human beings.
Seely and Sayler/Morris are currently working on a book and exhibition for this project that may involve other images taken during their time as fellows.