BPLTC I: Cellular Control

24 September - 14 October 2015

  • Vernissage: 24 September 2015, 18:00 - 22:00
  • Discussion with subRosa : 26 September 2015, 14:00 - 15:00
  • Guided tour of exhibit: 27 September 2015, 14:00 - 15:00
  • Opening hours: Tue - Sun, 12:00 - 17:00
  • HEATHER DEWEY-HAGBORG
  • SUBROSA
  • VERENA FRIEDRICH

Eastern Bloc introduces the first segment of our 2015-2016 three-part cycle of exhibitions and activities, BPLTC, on the general theme of biopolitics.

This cycle is divided into three segments: Cellular Control, Identity Control and Food Control. The development of computer and digital technologies enables important command of human activities, responding to major financial, corporate and political interests, sometimes for better. Advances in research and its technical applications raise complex issues that are central to communities, and are located at the heart of current political challenges. Many new media and digital contemporary artists are now incorporating theses questions into their work. 


Cellular control examines the theme of cellular control and how human beings tend to take over creative and (re)productive activities supposed to be exclusive to natural organisms.

These control activities, often controversial and accused of anti- or non-natural practices, explore the scientific, biological and genetic manipulations, which, in the digital age, are greatly facilitated by knowledge in these various fields of research, but also by technological tools. Cellular control experiments and genetic manipulation are now commonplace, so much so that we rarely pay attention to them. Yet, they deserve our attention because they deal with highly sensitive issues at the heart of investigations launched many years ago. 


Invisible (Heather Dewey-Hagborg) is an installation that deals with biological monitoring, which currently uses our most essential biological identity, namely our DNA, as a means of analysis, monitoring, and tracking, therefore reducing the body to a simple set of data and impeding individual freedom. Yet, our most fundamental right is rooted in the guarantee of determining what happens to our bodies and the ability to be in constant control of how we share information. The artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg has created a duo of sprays, Erase and Replace, which erase bodily traces forgotten in public places. 

Heather Dewey-Hagborg (New York City, US) is a transdisciplinary artist and educator who is interested in art as research and critical inquiry. Heather has shown work internationally at events and venues including the Poland Mediations Bienniale, Ars Electronica, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, the Science Gallery Dublin, PS1 MOMA, the New Museum, and Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York City. Her work has been widely discussed in the media, from the New York Times and the BBC to TED and Wired.


Cellular Performance (Verena Friedrich) examines the advertising language used by the care products industry. It specifically focuses on the names of so-called “cosmeceuticals,” a class of skin care products claiming pharmaceutical benefits. Cellular Performance draws on this terminology and applies it directly to the physiological material it makes reference to: skin cells have been manipulated in the laboratory to form words which in effect re-incarnate the promises of the cosmeceutical industry. Selected skin cell lines were cultured. The ephemeral outcome of this procedure was recorded by means of live cell imaging and time-lapse microscopy. Moments of successful stabilization are quickly followed by disorder and decay... 

Verena Friedrich (Cologne, Germany) is an artist working in various disciplines such as installation, video, sound and biological practice. Besides creating works in which organic and electronic media come into play she is interested in the direct interaction with scientists and engineers and the hands-on work in the bioscientific laboratory. In recent years, she was an artist in residence at “SymbioticA – Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts” in Perth, Australia as well as at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing Cologne, Germany. Verena Friedrich studied at the University of Art and Design Offenbach, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. Her projects have been presented internationally and have been granted the International Media Award for Science and Art from ZKM Karlsruhe, a special mention in the VIDA 13.2 Art and Artificial Life Awards, the Young Artists Award of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia and a honorary mention in the Prix Ars Electronica 2015.


Cell Track: Mapping the Appropriation of Life Materials (SubRosa), an installation and website, situate the privatization of human, animal, and plant genomes within a history of Eugenic practices. This work draws attention to the increasing separation between the bodies that produce genetic material, and the pharmaceutical “products” derived from them. Maternal biological material especially—such as eggs, placentas, fetuses, and umbilical cord blood—has become valuable “raw material” mined for new stem cell technologies. This has opened pathways for corporations to profit from the manipulation and control of life—by patenting and licensing existing DNA sequences, and by engineering new biological “products”.

SubRosa (Pittsburgh, US) is a mutable (cyber)feminist cell of cultural researchers committed to combining art, social activism, and politics to explore and critique the intersections of information and bio technologies on women’s bodies, lives and work. SubRosa’s name honours feminist pioneers in art, activism, labour, science, and politics: Rosa Bonheur, Rosa Luxemburg, Rosie the Riveter, Rosa Parks and Rosie Franklin. Since its founding in 1998, SubRosa has developed a situated, trans-disciplinary, performative, and discursive art practice that strives to create open-ended environments where participants engage with objects, texts, digital technologies, and critical learning experiences interacting with each other and the artists. We make visible the interconnections of technology, gender, and difference; feminism and global capital; new bio and medical technologies and women’s health; and the changed conditions of labour and reproduction for women in the integrated circuit..

Free

24 September - 14 October 2015

  • Vernissage: 24 September 2015, 18:00 - 22:00
  • Discussion with subRosa : 26 September 2015, 14:00 - 15:00
  • Guided tour of exhibit: 27 September 2015, 14:00 - 15:00
  • Opening hours: Tue - Sun, 12:00 - 17:00