New York artist Brandon Ballengée was artist in residence at Gallery Oldham in November 2002 as part of the CleanRooms exhibition. Working in collaboration with a small group of unemployed young people, he developed a project which explored the origin and growth of current practices in genetic engineering. The group visited English farms, pet shops, urban parks, markets, and biotech laboratories to help trace the history of humankind’s struggle for dominance over natural evolutionary forces. According to the Ballengée, “the ‘Unconscious’ selection of our early ancestors shifted to selective breeding or artificial selection and has now evolved into the manipulation of individual genes to create entirely new species.”
Creating images of hundreds of species/breeds, they created two enormous visual time-lines exploring the changes in plant and animal life over the last 25,000 years. The work became an integral part of the CleanRooms exhibition and toured with it to the Natural History Museum in London in 2003, where Ballengée was again artist-in-residence and further developed the work in collaboration with the public and museum scientists.
Brandon Ballengée creates multidisciplinary works from information generated by ecological field trips and laboratory research, exploring the boundaries between art, science and technology. Since 1996, Ballengée has collaborated with numerous scientists to conduct primary biological research and advanced imaging procedures. His works have been exhibited in New York, Beijing, Vienna, London and other cities. He has also conducted many workshops on the themes of ecology, field biology and genetics with children and the general public.
Gallery Oldham, Oldham, Greater Manchester, UK
5 October - 30 November 2002
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7, UK
20 June - 3 August 2003
Arts Council England