Curatorial

Corpus Extremus (Life+)

 

February 28 – April 18, 2009

Opening: Saturday February 28, 7-10pm

Suzanne Anker, Guy Ben-Ary and Philip Gamblen in collaboration with Dr. Steve Potter Lab, BioKino (Guy Ben-Ary and Tanya Visosevic), Dmitry Bulatov, Center for PostNatural History, Kathy High, Soyo Lee, Yuri Leiderman and Andrey Silvestrov, Stelarc, The Tissue Culture and Art Project (Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr), ULTRAFUTURO (Oleg Mavromatti and Boryana Rossa) in collaboration with Chris Bjornsson and Kathy HighPaul Vanouse, Jennifer Willet, Adam Zaretsky and the pFARM Collective

NEW YORK –Corpus Extremus (LIFE+), the second exhibition of Exit Art’s Curatorial Incubator Program, will present work by artists who are using bio- and media- technologies to investigate questions of life and death. Representative of a relatively new international trend, these artists are uniting science and art to challenge conventional understanding of both fields.

Prior to the eighteenth century, art and science were not identified as distinct disciplines, and were often joined. Thus a hybrid bio-art discipline is nothing radically new. Yet, the work in Corpus Extremus (LIFE+) represents a revolution in interdisciplinary research and practices and offers a critical evaluation of science and technology through art. This direct involvement of artists in scientific research and lab practices aims to demystify science through a cross-disciplinary approach; provoke discussion about art and science as creative stimuli to each other; and pose ethical questions to society.

In this exhibition the artworks deal with the transformation of our notions of life and death due to the implementation of biotechnological advances in everyday life. Recent innovations in science and technology are causing us to confront and challenge our conventional understanding of the body. Trying to reveal “the secret of life,” and to retain health, we are finding new ways to create living transplants and sustain life outside of the body. This possibility gives ground for the design of new organisms – hybrids, cyborgs and extended human bodies – that might be a new stage in an evolution with a questionable future.

The work presented in Corpus Extremus (LIFE+) is often composed of living matter and is intended to pose ethical questions about life and death, and such developments as the “patenting of life”. One of the objectives of the show is to raise issues about micro-life, artificially cultured cells, viruses, and bacteria in order to confront our anthropocentric hierarchies. Another aim is to address the use of genetic technologies, and the possibility of engineered and commodified perfection.

Diverse in intent and realization, the work presented in Corpus Extremus (LIFE+) is also in dialogue with electronic media. In addition to experimenting with biological matter, the works incorporate robotics and deal with the idea of the human machine. Corpus Extremus (LIFE+) will be at once poetic, political, critical, ironic and utopian.

The Living Screen, an installation/performance by BioKino (Guy Ben-Ary and Tanya Visosevic) and hosted by SymbioticA (The University of Western Australia), refers to early cinema and features a series of self created Nano-Movies projected onto actual living screens grown from skin and blood cells.

In Latent Figure Protocol, a piece by Paul Vanouse, representational images are derived from the DNA of industrially produced organisms, illuminating ethical questions around the changing status of organic life and its ownership.

The Mirror of Faith, an installation by ULTRAFUTURO (Oleg Mavromatti and Boryana Rossa) in collaboration with Chris Bjornsson and Kathy High, represents the first phase of an attempt to create a Transcendental Bacteria of Faith from E-coli genetically-modified by the VMAT2 gene, thought to cause higher consciousness and spirituality.

Silent Barrage, a project by Guy Ben-Ary and Philip Gamblen with Peter Gee, Dr. Nathan Scott and Brett Murray, hosted by SymbioticA (The University of Western Australia), and in collaboration with Dr. Steve Potter Lab at Georgia Institute of Technology, has its world premiere at Exit Art. The group is researching modes of embodiment of living neurons. In Silent Barrage, a robotic body, made of 36 networked kinetic objects, is controlled by a biological “brain” or neural network, that is grown and nurtured miles away in Dr. Potter’s Lab in Atlanta, Georgia.

NoArk II, by The Tissue Culture and Art Project (Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr), hosted by SymbioticA (The University of Western Australia), is intended to raise questions about the taxonomic challenge posed by the creation of new bio-technological life forms. NoArk II is constructed of an experimental vessel designed to sustain living cells and tissues that originated from different organisms.

The Transgenic Organisms of New York State and Strategies in Genetic Copy Protection,organized by theCenter forPostNatural History, expand on the idea of the curiosity cabinet by housing an extensive collection of genetically modified organisms from New York State.

Adam Zaretsky and the pFARM Collective will screen pFARM :: Organic Fetish Biotech, a video documenting the activities of the pFarm collective and its phantasmagoric, organic bio-tech experiments in inter-species fantasies, fetishes and flea-market offerings.

Kathy High’s Petition for Lab Rat Shelter is an ongoing project envisioning inventive and improved environments for transgenic lab rats, which is conceived to enhance understanding of their relationship to human diseases and ourselves. In her previous work, High adopted lab rats that scientists had microinjected with human DNA in order to study human illnesses. She created healing homes for them, fed them well, made sure they exercised, treated them with homeopathic medicine, and gave them names.

Kefir Grains Are Going Onto the Flight is a film produced by Yuri Leiderman and Andrey Silvestrov that documents a “competition” between cultured kefir grains on board a Russian space program training plane in zero gravity that aims to select the best “cosmonaut” among them.

Programmed Butterflies is an ongoing research project by Soyo Lee, in which the artist reflects on her work in a butterfly lab and the conventions of scientific methods. Composed of photography, microscopic images and semi-poetic/semi-scientific texts, this work explores issues and raises questions about the ethics of sacrifice in science, art and life.

Senses Alert, by Dmitry Bulatov, is a multimedia installation that critically evaluates the “beauty” of genetic modifications derived from the micro-injection of fluorescent proteins. The GFP (green fluorescent protein) originally isolated from the Aequorea victoria jellyfish is an important tool in contemporary bio science, allowing researchers to make visible what was previously invisible. There is now a variety of GFP-like proteins florescent within the visible spectrum of color. Bulatov explores the visual potential of this modification in his photograph of a half-red and half-green Xenopus laevis tadpole.

Stelarc sees his Extra Ear: Ear on Arm as a prosthesis that conjures associations with an extreme modification of the body, “a symptom of excess,” or “a radical genetic intervention.” This counters conventional understanding of such devices as replacements for a deficiency or a lack. The Extra Ear is constructed out of soft tissue and flexible cartilage attached to the arm of the artist. Stelarc envisions it functioning as an antenna that augments the body’s senses. Extra Ear: Ear on Arm relates to Stelarc’s theory of the Obsolete Body and his belief in the technological enhancement of human species.

Jennifer Willet’s installation Inside Out: Laboratory Ecologies is an intervention into “laboratory ecology,” what can be described as the carefully balanced relationship among organisms and entities inhabiting the lab: animal and human research subjects, cells, bacteria, enzymes, plants, the scientists, and unwanted contaminants.

Suzanne Ankerinvestigates the way in which light waves influence plant growth in her work, Shelf Life. Anker’s sculptural installation, which features LED lighting panels above a series of aluminum ‘seed houses’, functions as a food-bearing microsystem. In response to astroculture, which seeks to generate food in space from artifical light sources, Anker’s work deploys light as a directive growth agent in order to grow plants using this light emitting energy.

Curated by Boryana Rossa.

PUBLIC EVENTS

THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 6–8pm

Corpus Extremus Explained and Expanded, Part 1

A series of presentations by Corpus Extremus artists and researchers that shed light on their work and bio-art issues.

Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr of The Tissue Culture and Art Project discuss their work,NoArk II,and semi living objects (partly alive and partly constructed) as a totally new class of object beings. Steve Potter, Associate Professor, Laboratory for NeuroEngineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, joins us via Skype for a presentation regarding the science behind Silent Barrage in Corpus Extremus. BioKino (Guy Ben Ary and Tanya Visosevic), artists, discuss Silent Barrage and The Living Screen.

Exit Underground. FREE. Cash bar.

FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 6-8pm

Corpus Extremus Explained and Expanded, Part 2

Paul Vanouse, artist, presents his work and issues of biopiracy and patenting of life.

Adam Zaretsky does a presentation on mutagenic arts related to his work pFARM :: Organic Fetish Biotech followed by a screening of the project’s 60 minute film. FREE. Cash bar.

APRIL, TBA

Corpus Extremus Explained and Expanded, Part 3

Kathy High,Irina Aristarkhova and Suzanne Ankerengage with issues of reproduction rights, male pregnancy, immolation from combat viewed through the destructive effects on skin, transgenic design, and interaction of lab ecologies through screenings and talks.

Yuri Leiderman, Andrey Silvestrov and Oleg Mavromatti will expand the science/society discussion by presenting a critical historical overview of Russian Cosmism as a mystical philosophy that deeply affected the development of Soviet science and space research, as well as the relationship between spirituality and science and their media representation.

UNKNOWN TERRITORIES

Corpus Extremus (LIFE+) is the third in Exit Art’s Unknown Territories series exploring the impact of scientific advances on contemporary culture. It follows Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution, a landmark exhibition of art and biotechnology shown in 2000, and BrainWave: Common Senses, an exhibition in February 2008 that examined the relationship between neuroscience and contemporary art. Corpus Extremus (LIFE+) is also the second show of Exit Art’s Curatorial Incubator Program.

CURATOR’S BIO

Boryana Rossa is an interdisciplinary artist and PhD Candidate in the Electronic Art Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She works in the fields of electronic arts, film, video, performance and photography. Her works have been shown at Kunstwerke, Berlin; The Moscow Biennial; Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, NY; and Akademie der Kunste, Berlin. In 2004, together with the Russian artist Oleg Mavromatti, Rossa established UTRAFUTURO — an art/tech collective.

CURATORIAL INCUBATOR

The second exhibition of Exit Art’s Curatorial Incubator Program is Corpus Extremus (LIFE+), curated by Boryana Rossa. The program expands Exit Art’s commitment to young and emerging curators and scholars in contemporary art, by giving material, financial, and human resources to developing curatorial talent. Working with Exit Art directors and staff, fellows curate large-scale exhibition projects, learn fundraising, develop outreach and educational programs, and co-publish a catalogue. Access to Exit Art’s acclaimed archives facilitates these curatorial fellows’ abilities to contextualize their projects within international and historical frameworks.

Curatorial Incubator Director: Mary Anne Staniszewski.

ABOUT EXIT ART
Exit Art is an independent vision of contemporary culture. We are prepared to react immediately to important issues that affect our lives. We do experimental, historical and unique presentations of aesthetic, social, political and environmental issues. We absorb cultural differences that become prototype exhibitions. We are a center for multiple disciplines. Exit Art is a 25 year old cultural center in New York City founded by Directors Jeanette Ingberman and Papo Colo, that has grown from a pioneering alternative art space, into a model artistic center for the 21st century committed to supporting artists whose quality of work reflects the transformations of our culture. Exit Art is internationally recognized for its unmatched spirit of inventiveness and consistent ability to anticipate the newest trends in the culture. With a substantial reputation for curatorial innovation and depth of programming in diverse media, Exit Art is always changing.

EXHIBITION SUPPORT

This exhibition is supported with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. General exhibition support from Bloomberg LP, Carnegie Corporation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Starry Night Fund at The Tides Foundation, Exit Art’s Board of Directors and our members. SymbioticA, The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts is a jointly funded initiative between The University of Western Australia and the Western Australian Department of Culture and the Arts (2008 –2011). SymbioticA’s participation at Exit Art assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. NoArk II and Silent Barrage assisted by the State of Western Australia through the Department of Culture and the Arts. The Living Screen assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts. Special thanks to the Department of the Arts, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Exit Art is located at 475 Tenth Avenue, corner of 36th Street. Hours at Exit Art are Tuesday – Thursday, 10am – 6pm; Friday, 10am – 8pm; and Saturday, noon – 8pm. Closed Sunday and Monday. There is a suggested donation of $5.

For more information please call 212-966-7745 or visit www.exitart.org.