The Performance Artist: Isabella Rossellini + Diana Reiss
Later in January, art-house luminary Isabella Rossellini will appear at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in her one-woman show, adapted from the celebrated Sundance Channel series about the surprisingly kinky and confounding mating rituals of insects and marine life Green Porno. With day-glo costumes and paper puppets, Rossellini channels a host of reproductive oddities. Part nature documentary, part DIY cartoon, Green Porno is a cheeky, delightful zoology lesson brought vividly to life by Rossellini’s singular flair for storytelling. “It was my interest in animals,” she said in a recent interview. “I was kind of born with that. I went back to school to do a master’s degree in conservation and animal behavior, and it’s an ongoing interest of mine. The people who knew me as a model or actress didn’t know about this until recently. But my family was not surprised.” The daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini, she was a journalist for Italian television, modeled as the face of Lancôme and has appeared in over forty feature films, notably Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, and Death Becomes Her.
Diana Reiss is a cognitive psychologist and professor in the Department of Psychology at Hunter College and Animal Behavior and Comparative Psychology program at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She directs a research program investigating dolphin cognition and communication at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD and she is a research associate at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in DC where she investigates elephant cognition. She and her students also conduct field studies on communication and behavior in wild dolphins in Bimini and Belize. Dr. Reiss’s research focuses on dolphin cognition, communication, comparative animal cognition, and the evolution of intelligence. She pioneered the use of underwater keyboards with dolphins to investigate their cognitive and communicative abilities and provide them with more degrees of choice and control. Dr. Reiss and her colleagues demonstrated that bottlenose dolphins and an Asian elephants possess the rare ability for mirror self-recognition previously thought to be restricted to humans and great apes. Her efforts also involve the rescue and rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals including the successful rescue of the renowned Humphrey the humpback whale in the San Francisco Bay waters. Her advocacy work in conservation and animal welfare includes the protection of dolphins in the tuna-fishing industry and efforts to bring an end to the killing of dolphins in the drive hunts in Japan that were exposed in Oscar winning film The Cove. Dr. Reiss’s work has been featured in hundreds of articles in international and national journals, science magazines, television segments and features, and newspaper articles. Her recent book The Dolphin in the Mirror was released in the fall 2011.