Exploring ideas of contamination and containment, ethics and accountability, the works in the CleanRooms exhibition ask the audience to decide how far they themselves would go with the emerging powers of genetic manipulation.
CleanRooms included major installations by Gina Czarnecki, Neal White and Brandon Ballengee, with performances of GenTerra by Critical Art Ensemble.
In Gina Czarnecki's Silvers Alter, life-size human forms "live" within a large video projection in the gallery. They are the subjects for you to manipulate and mate. The 'beings' you create have never existed before. Silvers Alter raises a simple question; to what extent are we prepared to participate in all that we have made possible and that we aspire to make possible for ourselves?
Neal White's Uncontrolled Hermetic recreates one of the controlled areas or clean rooms used in industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. You, the visitor, fulfil the final part of this system, as the contaminating or contaminated body, the weakest link in the ultraclean technology chain: a human being.
US group Critical Art Ensemble with Beatriz Da Costa present their participatory performance GenTerra. Lab-coated representatives from the GenTerra biotechnology corporation introduce their transgenic bioproducts. An installation and a video of the performance explains their work and explores the pros and cons of transgenics
Brandon Ballengee's installation From Farm 2 Pharm, created as a participatory project alongside the Oldham exhibition of CleanRooms, traces the history of humankind's struggle for dominance over natural evolutionary forces with a gallery installation of images of domesticated/engineered organisms.
The exhibition was part of the extensive programme of associated Darwin Centre Live events including artist residencies by Brandon Ballengee and Michael Carklin and the Working with Wetware forum.
Working with Wetware, 20 June 2002.
This forum explored the work of artists who work directly with living biological systems. Speakers included Steve Kurtz (US), Oron Catts (Aus) from SymbioticA, Marta De Menezes (Portugal), Ruth West (US), Sandy Knapp (UK), Brandon Ballengee (US) and Gina Czarnecki (UK). The forum was chaired by Kodwo Eshun.
GenTerra performances by Critical Art Ensemble, 21-22 June 2002
Biotech drama workshops led by Michael Carklin 7 - 18 July 2002
Pages 48, Binding softback, illustrated in colour and b&w
Dimensions 220mm x 200mm, Weight
Gallery Oldham, Oldham, Greater Manchester, UK
5 October - 30 November 2002
Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7, UK
20 June - 3 August 2003
Stills, Edinburgh, Scotland
Gina Czarneckis's Silvers Alter was also show as part of the Designer Bodies: The Future Of Human Genetics exhibition at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, 3 April - 6 June 2004