Genecraft: Art in the Biogenetic Age
February 22 - May 13
Gina Czarnecki, John Hunt and Laurie Ramsell
22 February to 13 May 2017
Open Wednesdays to Saturdays, 12 – 5pm
This exhibition is part of a wider programme at BOM presenting art at the frontiers of science. It brings together new ‘living’ artworks by Gina Czarnecki, John Hunt and Laurie Ramsell that respond to developments in landmark genetic research.
West Midlands-based artist Laurie Ramsell has worked alongside Dr Simon Park from the University of Surrey and Professor Ferenc Mueller from the University of Birmingham, to explore the organisms that are studied in the development of new human medicines. His piece Homdanio Birminghamensis (2017) is a sculpture made from bacterial cellulose (a strong, moldable substance produced by bacteria) and the artist’s own DNA. It takes the visual form of a zebrafish embryo, which are currently being studied due to similarities between the human and zebrafish genetic code.
Heirloom (2016-17) is a collaborative artwork by artist Gina Czarnecki and Professor John Hunt from the University of Liverpool. This living portrait uses human tissue cultured from the saliva of the artist’s daughters. The tissue has been grown onto glass casts of the children’s faces, creating biological portraits that are bathed in a liquid to feed them and prevent infection. When the skin cells reach the thickness of tissue paper, they are removed, preserved and displayed as framed portraits.
Heirloom and Homdanio Birminghamensis offer new ways of thinking about sculpture and portraiture in the biogenetic age. The artworks also ask important questions about the quest for human survival and genetic inheritance as we race towards a future of predictive diagnoses and personalised ‘genomics’ medicines in just a few years time.
During the exhibition, a public programme of talks and workshops will bring together artists and scientists to discuss issues raised by the works, and explore new biological processes in art making.
Heirloom is created by Gina Czarnecki and Professor John Hunt, with Saskia and Lola Czarnecki-Stubbs. Developed for display with Medical Museion as part of the EU Creative Europe funded project Trust Me, I’m an Artist. Heirloom is supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Heirloom is a Forma Arts touring production.
Photo: Gina Czarnecki and John Hunt, Heirloom 2016. Photo by by Stephen King.