Trust Me, I’m an Artist - Exhibition

Performance by Martin O'Brien, Taste of Flesh / Bite Me I'm Yours, 2015
Performance by Martin O'Brien, Taste of Flesh / Bite Me I'm Yours, 2015

Trust Me, I’m an Artist is a group exhibition of nine artists’ works that examine ethical complexities of medicine and biotechnology. The artworks variously engage with gene editing, human tissue culture, the commons of nuclear materials, trans-species communication, the smuggling of biomaterials across continents, fear of contamination associated with the sick body, and the relation between rituals of self-healing and personalised medicine.

It includes documentation of Martin O’Brien’s performance event Taste of Flesh / Bite Me, I’m Yours, commissioned by Arts Catalyst, in which the artist highlights public anxiety around the risk of infection and the surge in depictions of the zombie in popular culture.

Most of the artworks were commissioned as a series of performative events that took place between 2015 and 2017. During these events, the artists were invited to propose and present an artwork that would raise an issue of ethical complexity in front of an audience and a specially convened ethics committee. The committee then deliberated and discussed their decisions with the artist and audience.

The artists and collaborators are Martin O’Brien (GB), Gina Czarnecki (GB) & John Hunt (GB), Anna Dumitriu (GB), Špela Petrič (SLO), Jennifer Willet (CAN) & Kira O’Reilly (GB/FIN) and Howard Boland (GB), Erich Berger (AT/FIN) & Mari Keto (FIN). The artworks were in part commissioned by the projects Trust Me, I’m an Artist, except for those of Erich Berger & Mari Keto and Howard Boland.

The artworks were commissioned by Arts Catalyst, Medical Museion, Kapelica Gallery and Waag Society. Trust Me, I'm an Artist is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

The exhibition is curated by Anna Dumitriu and Lucas Evers, and the project partners Nicola Triscott, Louise Emma Whiteley and Jurij Krpan.

Opening event: 1 – 6 pm, Sat 13 May 2017

Programme:
1 – 2 pm: Walking lunch and welcome
2 – 4 pm: Statements and discussion
4 – 6 pm: Official opening and drinks

Artists

Martin O'Brien is a performance artist whose work and research is concerned with physical endurance, hardship and excess in relation to illness and medicine. Through an engagement with his body in extremis, as one with a severe chronic illness - cystic fibrosis - he explores issues of pain and medicine, discipline, abjection and body politics. As part of the EU project 'Trust Me, I'm an Artist: towards an ethis of Art/Science collaboration', O'Brien will present performance work and discuss the ethical issues with experts drawn from performance art, medicine and bioethics.
 
Gina Czarnecki is a British new media artist born in Immingham in 1965. She studied painting and film-making at Wimbledon School of Art 1984-87 and a Postgraduate Degree in Electronic Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College Dundee from 1991-2. Her work spans a variety of mediums, including film, video, sculpture and installation art. Through a varied and often unconventional practice her work engages us with the visceral, psychological and biological grey areas, hybrids and developments that provoke questions on so many levels. Her research focuses on technologies and culture.
 
Dr. John Hunt is a professor of Clinical Sciences and director of the U.K. Centre for Tissue Engineering. John's research focuses on developing breakthrough therapies, devices and technology to repair, replace, augment and regenerate diseased, infected and damaged tissues in humans using material interventions. For Trust Me, I'm an Artist, Dr. Hunt is working with artist, Gina Czarnecki on the project, Heirloom. The project aims to 'grow skin portraits' of the Czarnecki's daughters from their own cells onto traditionally produced glass casts of their faces.
 
Kira O'Reilly is a performance artist, who graduated from the Cardiff School of Art in 1998. Between 2003 and 2004, O'Reilly undertoook a residency with SymbioticA, a bio-art project based in the department of Human Anatomy at The University of Western Australia.
 
Dr. Jennifer Willet is an internationally successful artist in the emerging field of BioArt. Her work resides at the intersection of art and science and explores notions of representation, the body, ecologies and interspecies interrelations in the biotechnological field.
 
Špela Petrič is a Slovenian new media artist and scientific researcher currently based in Amsterdam, NL. Her artistic practice combines natural science, new media and performance. She is interested in all aspects of anthropocentrism: the reconstruction and reappropriation of scientific methodology in the context of cultural phenomena; living systems in connection to inanimate systems manifesting life-like properties; and terRabiology: an ontological view of the evolution and terraformative process on Earth. She extends her artistic research with art/sci workshops devoted to informing and sensitizing the interested public, particularly younger generations.
 
Erich Berger is an artist, curator and cultural worker based in Helsinki. His interests lie in information processes and feedback structures, which he investigates through installations, performances and interfaces. Throughout his artist practice he has explored the materiality of information and information and technology as artistic material. His current interest in issues of deep time and hybrid ecology led him to work with geological processes, radiogenic ohenomena and their socio-political implications in the here and now. Mari Keto explores the limits of artificats by combining jewellery materials in her installations and portraits. In Keto's work both the conceptual underpinning and a high degree of craftsmanship merge into an artwork. Keto's work is strongly research-based. She engages with her subject matter from various perspectives in order to define her own. Keto explores the tensions and structures of our contemporary culture by portraying icons and symbols predominantly surrounding us. Deriving from cultural histories and pop culture her work examines the distinctions between value and consumption. Keto's multi-layered works contain intemperate realism mixed with humor and irony.
 
Dr. Howard Boland is a multidisciplinary research-based artist working with biological and digital media. His innovative research in synthetic biology has produced novel visual expressions in bacteria culminating in the UK's first ever art exhibition featuring living genetically modified microorganisms. He is co-director and co-founder of the internationally recognised art-science collective and organisation C-LAB and his interdisciplinary artworks have been exhibited and presented worldwide. With strong technical and creative skills, his experience spans from artistic to scientific contexts where he has led award-winning projects.
 
Anna Dumitriu is a British artist whose work fuses craft, sculpture and bioscience to explore our relationship to the microbial world, technology and biomedicine. She has an international exhibition profile, having exhibited at venues including The Picasso Museum in Barcelona, The Science Gallery in Dublin, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Taipei, and The V & A Museum in London.