December 2012 and January 2013 at Place, Portland, Oregon.
I always assumed that I would have children one day. It wasn’t something that I felt strongly about one way or the other: I just thought it was something I would do.
Then, a few years ago, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, a disease which causes infertility in many women. Suddenly, the future I hadn’t cared much about seemed important. The maybe-never of it put me in a should-I-even-try frame of mind.
After being told again and again that the urge to reproduce is primordial, I turned to nature to look for the origins of our baby-making assumptions. To begin with, all I found was the animal version of “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.” But I wasn’t convinced.
Slowly but surely, I unraveled the mystery of this seemingly universal formula. I began to understand that the scientists who described animal behavior could be as stuck in a nursery rhyme version of normalcy as I was. And I began to find scientists who weren’t.
As I researched, I broadened my question. I could see that this wasn’t just about baby-making. It was about all the things that we think women and men have to be in order to be natural.
For all my investigating and exploring, I still couldn’t control whether or not I can have children, but I could decide to have a children’s book instead. So I did. Crime Against Nature is this book and it’s also a series that I sometimes exhibit as a version of the text that viewers can wander through as they read. Whatever the format, book or show, Crime Against Nature is meant for the kid in all of us: the person who hasn’t yet felt the pressure to conform, the one who still sees the infinite possibilities of being.
The book includes all the images and text featured above plus a foreword by the evolutionary biologist Joan Roughgarden.The print version is available for $30. This price includes shipping within the United States, but, if you would like the book to be sent elsewhere, please email me for details.
You can read the digital version of the book for FREE either here on this site or in the form of this photo album on Facebook. And there’s also a downloadable PDF version of the book available for $6.
This poster is another presentation of Crime Against Nature. It combines an image of the work with the text from the book to create a punchy little meme that sums up the point of the project: that we don’t know as much about what is actually natural as we think we do!
“The issues at play here are hefty and potentially uncomfortable, but the book itself is light, playful, and pleasantly un-preachy.”
“The glimpses that Seemel has illustrated of the real wildness of the natural world are fascinating.”
“Seemel’s book covers it all and reminds us that if you’re inclined to look to nature for answers regarding what is ‘normal,’ ‘natural,’ or even ‘moral,’ it’s clear that nature passes no judgement.”
“It’s beautiful and weird and quirky and is guaranteed to spark conversation. ...When I got my print version of the book I also knew it belonged on the coffee table as much as in the classroom.”
To find out more about the making of Crime Against Nature, visit this section of my blog. There, you’ll find articles as well as videos like this one.