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The Pine Barrens Project, Saturday, Feb. 12 

Featuring Film and Video Exploring Our Relationship to the Natural World 

PHILADELPHIA, January 19, 2022

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University presents The Pine Barrens Project on Saturday, Feb. 12, featuring film and video that celebrate and reflect on the natural world—how it shapes our identities and our symbiotic, yet often destructive, relationship to it. 


The Pine Barrens Project takes place between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. and is curated by Philadelphia artist and filmmaker and Pew Arts & Heritage Fellow David Scott Kessler. Kessler’s feature-length film “The Pine Barrens” will be shown at 5 p.m. accompanied by a live score by The Ruins of Friendship Orchestra. 


Influenced by the distinct ecology and history of New Jersey's Pine Barrens, The Pine Barrens Project explores cultural and creative relationships with the natural world with works by artists inspired by the region, including land art pioneer Nancy Holt, Nobel Prize-winning artist Maya Lin, and Philadelphia video installation artists and Guggenheim Foundation Fellows Matthew Suib & Nadia Hironaka. 


At 1.1 million acres, the Pine Barrens — also known as the New Jersey Pinelands — represents the largest open space on the East Coast between Boston and Richmond, Va., and covers about 22% of the nation's most densely populated state. Under the sandy soil lies 17 trillion gallons of pristine water in the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer, which supplies drinking water to two million people. 


Despite countless threats and continued abuses, this unlikely land of fire, folklore and endangered species has persisted, mainly due to the relationship between people and the natural world that remains strong in this region through agriculture, storytelling, recreation and advocacy. 


On Feb. 12, the event begins at 3 p.m. in the museum's halls of dioramas with experimental film installations and a display of Academy plant and animal specimens collected from the Pine Barrens. From 5-7 p.m., "The Pine Barrens" film will be shown with the live The Ruins of Friendship Orchestra. Then from 7-9 p.m. the film installations will again be available for viewing. 


Tickets are $35. Space is limited. Masks and proof of vaccination are required. For more information and to register, visit 


"The Pine Barrens" film also will be available online Feb. 12 through Feb. 15. Tickets for the virtual screening are $10 and can be purchased at: Included in the ticket price is access to a virtual Q&A with Kessler on Tuesday, Feb. 15 from 7-8 p.m. Those purchasing in-person tickets will be able to view the virtual Q&A at no extra charge. 


The Pine Barrens Project began in 2012 as a series of film and performance collaborations between Kessler and members of The Ruins of Friendship Orchestra. Evolving iterations of “The Pine Barrens” film depicted the character of a place that seemed fluid and unknowable while exploring themes of identity and relationship to the natural world. 


To broaden the focus of The Pine Barrens Project, Kessler began to produce events that assembled experimental ecological works by contemporary artists and musicians exploring the boundaries between nature and the modern world. Several of these events, entitled Middle of Nowhere, took place in the forests, fields and bogs of the Pine Barrens itself.  


The Academy's iteration of The Pine Barrens Project features: 


“The Pine Barrens” by David Scott Kessler with live score by The Ruins of Friendship Orchestra 

"Pine Barrens" by Nancy Holt 

"Field Resistance" by Emily Drummer 

"Ghost Forest" by Maya Lin, directed by Michael Fodera and produced by Madison Square Park Conservancy. 

"Landscape to be Invented" by Josh Weissbach 

"Ten Fires" by David Scott Kessler and The Ruins of Friendship Orchestra 

"Field Companion (Chapter Seven: You're Not Alone)" by Matt Suib and Nadia Hironaka 


For images, visit the Academy Press Room