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How to Do Nothing in Oakland with Jenny Odell and Liam O’Donoghue

Come celebrate Jenny Odell’s new book How to Do Nothing (Melville House, 2019) with Odell herself and local podcasting hero Liam O’Donoghue. They are both friends of the store and we love what they do, so we can’t wait to have them in conversation irl!

Jenny Odell has stated that her inspiration for “How to Do Nothing” was “grounded in a particular location, and that is the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses in Oakland, California.” Odell’s countless hours observing birds and other wildlife in this quiet neighborhood park led to the creation of her critically-acclaimed new book about “resisting the attention economy.” In honor of the book’s theme of “reconnecting with the world around us,” East Bay Yesterday host Liam O’Donoghue will interview Odell about her relationship with the local environment and how it led to a belief that we should “fiercely protect our human animality against all technologies that actively ignore and disdain the body, the bodies of others, and the body of the landscape that we inhabit.”   

What can we learn from Oakland’s oldest tree? How does one befriend local crows? Why shouldn’t you panic if you get lost in Chapel of the Chimes? What is “manifest dismantling”? All these questions and more will be answered during this lively conversation.

Copies of “How to Do Nothing” will be available at this event.

Jenny Odell is an Oakland-based interdisciplinary artist who frequently works with personal archives, collections, and taxonomies. Because her practice exists at the intersection of research and aesthetics, she has often been compared to a natural scientist. Her work has been exhibited at The Contemporary Jewish Museum (SF), Ever Gold Projects, the Barrick Museum (Las Vegas), Les Rencontres D’Arles, Fotomuseum Antwerpen, La Gaîté lyrique (Paris), Apexart (NY), the Lishui Photography Festival (China) and East Wing (Dubai). Odell has been an artist in residence at Recology SF, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the New York Public Library, and the Internet Archive. In 2016, Odell created a mural for the side of a Google data center in Pryor, Oklahoma. Odell currently teaches digital art at Stanford University.

Liam O’Donoghue is the host and producer of the KPFA radio program East Bay Yesterday and co-creator of the Long Lost Oakland map. East Bay Yesterday explores stories of local culture, politics and nature and was named “The Best Podcast about the East Bay” in 2017 by East Bay Express. O’Donoghue’s journalism has appeared in outlets such as KQED Arts, Berkeleyside, Open Space, Mother Jones, Salon, KALW-FM, and the syndicated NPR program Snap Judgement. O’Donoghue has given presentations on local history at libraries, schools, museums, breweries and bookstores throughout the Bay Area.