Miriam Hillawi Abraham
Miriam Hillawi Abraham is a multi-disciplinary designer from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. With a
background in Architecture, she works with digital media and spatial design to interrogate
themes of equitable futurism and intersectionality. She holds an MFA in Interaction Design from the California College of the Arts and a BArch in Architecture from the Glasgow School of Art.
She has worked as a game design instructor at Bay Area Video Coalition’s youth program for
over three years. She is now a Mellon researcher for the Canadian Centre for Architecture’s
Digital Now multidisciplinary project, a 2020 fellow of Gray Area’s Zachary Watson Education
Fund and a Graham Foundation 2020 grantee.
As the archivists of the Museum of Monsterology, our mission is to create a digital bestiary of
what we deem “necessary monsters”, from the primeval to the inconceivable future. Necessary monsters spawn in distinct geographies and timelines, appearing and disappearing in lore as omens, warnings of the unknown or what will come to be.
“As most of the existing literature on monsters confirms, the words ‘monster’, ‘monstrosity’ and ‘monstrousness’ all have their etymological root in the Latin monstrare, meaning both to showand also to warn or advise.” - Alexa Wright
We aim to create a compendium of monsters situated in our personal cultural geographies of South Korea and Ethiopia, as well as the digital expanse that connects us and our collective imagination. Visualizing the monsters for us is a method of reifying the collective anxieties, worldviews and contexts that necessitate them.
Museum of Monsterology - Heejoon June Yoon & Miriam Hillawi Abraham
As our shared concepts of normality or normative realities alter based on the needs and desires of society’s present day conditions, monsters of yore are banished, forgotten, disappeared or debunked in place of new fearful creatures that lurk just outside comprehension.
The monster also represents The Other, a transgressive figure beyond the scope of the
understanding or empathy of the Colonial authoritative figure. Unfamiliar and exotic, the monster often emerges as a negative reflection, inversion of what is considered the normal body. How do we see ourselves represented as the monster?
The Museum of Monsters is a taxonomy of morbid creatures that resist the autopoiesis of
humanity when faced with looming catastrophe. Our process is to manufacture fictional
evidence to support the retroactive histories and lore we will create around our monsters to
situate them in our present realities. We excavate our monsters from melting permafrost,
primordial memories and uncanny genetic synthesis, and expand the bounds of the fantastical towards a planetary scale beyond this epoch. Inspired by Jorge Luis Borges's Manual de Zoología Fantástica, our methodology roams between classification and imagination, wherein we extend the urgent conditions of our physical realities towards multiple futurisms. We adapt a multiscalar and multi-disciplinary methodology, that simultaneously situates our monster in a very specific locality while considering the larger implications of our shared ecologies: oceans, reefs, tectonics. We expand and contract our worldviews from microbial systems to vast cosmic realms. This process allows us to imagine a possibility of reworlding across different planes and temporalities.
Ultimately, this project aims to gather a collective experience of our present reality as the fate of our planet hangs precariously before us. Planetary existence links together our disparate realities and cultures as our earth transforms beneath our feet and this looming fear in itself is a necessary monster, a call to action.
When the surface erodes, boils and morphs, will these monsters come to the surface? Will their dank and unsavory environments become our only homes?
Will we in turn morph into monstrosities to survive as the earth undergoes this change and