CleanRooms, London

New works by Gina Czarnecki, Neal White, Critical Art Ensemble with Beatriz Da Costa, and Brandon Ballengee challenge our responses to biotechnology and explore its origins and implications

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.

Events programme

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

Catalogue

The CleanRooms catalogue is available to buy online from Cornerhouse Publications

Price £11.95
ISBN 9780953454617
Pages 48, Binding softback, illustrated in colour and b&w
Dimensions 220mm x 200mm, Weight 

Exhibitions

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

 

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Exhibition

CleanRooms, Oldham

New works by Gina Czarnecki, Neal White and Critical Art Ensemble with Beatriz Da Costa challenge our responses to biotechnology: a science often perceived as secretive and sinister.

Exploring ideas of contamination and containment, ethics and accountability, the works in the CleanRooms exhibition asked the audience to decide how far they themselves would go with the emerging powers of genetic manipulation.

CleanRooms included major installations by Gina Czarnecki and Neal White, and 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 raised 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 recreated one of the controlled areas or clean rooms used in industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. The visitor fulfilled 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 presented their participatory performance GenTerra. Lab-coated representatives from the GenTerra biotechnology corporation introduced their transgenic bioproducts. An installation and a video of the performance explained their work and explores the pros and cons of transgenics

Artists in Residence

The exhibition at Oldham was accompanied by an extensive programme of educational and interpretative events, including artist residencies by Ruth Ben Tovim and Brandon Ballengee, Saturday workshops for children, talks and demonstrations. New York artist Brandon Ballengee worked with local unemployed young people to explore the origin, growth and contemporary practice of genetic engineering. From visits to local farms, pet stores, parks and markets, Ballengee and his collaborators traced the history of humankind's struggle for dominance over natural evolutionary forces, creating a gallery and on-line installation from images of domesticated and engineered organisms, titled From Farm 2 Pharm.

Catalogue

The CleanRooms catalogue is available to buy online from Cornerhouse Publications

Price £11.95
ISBN 9780953454617
Pages 48
Binding soft back
illustrated in colour and b&w
Dimensions 220mm x 200mm
Weight 190g

 

Exhibitions

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 shown as part of the Designer Bodies: The Future Of Human Genetics exhibition
3 April - 6 June 2004

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MIR - Art in Variable Gravity

Exhibition of work from experiments in the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, Star City, Russia

"The human race will not stay on Earth for ever, but in pursuit of light and space, will first tentatively break out of the Earth's atmosphere and will then conquer the entire solar system", Konstantin Tsyolkovsky (1857-1935)

When Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth in 1961, he became a hero of the Soviet nation. After his historic flight, he reported that weightlessness was no problem. Despite Gagarin's optimism, however, zero gravity presents an immense problem for long-term human space travel and habitation, due to its harmful effects on the body. Until now, scientists have been the primary researchers in this field, and the aesthetic and creative possibilities of zero gravity have barely been explored due to the exclusiveness of the environment.

The works in the MIR exhibition emerged from the MIR campaigns, organised by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR consortium, which have enabled artists to undertake projects in zero gravity at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, heart of the Russian space programme. Also, for the first time, artist Stefan Gec was allowed access to the giant centrifuge in Star City to create a new work.

 

Events

MIR DJ Event - Fri 7 November 2003
Featuring sets by Kodwo Eshun and Ewen Chardronnet on the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. The day remains an official holiday in Russia.

Unknown Territories - Sat 8 November 2003
Panel discussion chaired by Marko Peljhan (Slovenia), artist and founder of the Makrolab project, Venice Biennale 2003, documenta X. Including presentations by Arts Catalyst director Nicola Triscott and curator Rob La Frenais. Also featuring: Ewen Chardronnet (France); Stefan Gec (UK) and Yuri Leiderman (Russia).

Artist In Residence: Ewen Chardronnet
8 November - 29 November 2003
Ewen Chardronnet (Fr), media artist, researcher and writer, was in residence at Cornerhouse, initiating project and research work involving gallery visitors, communities, and other artist networks.

 

Credits

MIR was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium, a group of international organisations including Arts Catalyst, Projekt Atol (Slo), V2_Institute for the Unstable Media (NI), Transmediale (D), Leonardo/OLATS (Fr/Us), SpaceArtONe (FR), MoM (Sp) and the Multimedia Complex for Actual Art

Funded by the European Commission Culture 2000 Awards and Arts Council England

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MIR - Dreams of Space

New photographic, installation and video works by British and Russian artists reflecting the enduring legacy of the Russian quest for space.

The works were created in Star City, heart of the Russian space programme, accessng the museums and archives there, as well as zero gravity flights and the giant centrifuge used for cosmonaut training . 50 years after the launch of Sputnik, and at the start of a new millennium, with new aspirations to build the International Space Station and to reach Mars, it is timely that artists are reclaiming these territories, in a contemporary and very direct sense.

 

Using the TsF-18 centrifuge in Star City, Gec recorded the G-force exerted by the centrifuge on a celestial globe. His resulting installation Celestial Vault prompts a re-examination of our age old fascination with the celestial sky. The Otolith Group (Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar.) with Richard Couzins' film Otolith opens up forgotten histories of the Space Age, uncovering a legacy of female exploration. Carey Young's exquisite photographic series Legacy Systems illustrate the remnants of the nuclear fuelled space-race, and the lingering hero worship of Gagarin .

Vadim Fishkin's installation Kapelgraf Zero-G translates time-based data into drops of water, beautifully demonstrating the effects of Earth gravity and zero gravity on the droplets. In Yuri Leiderman's film Kefir Grains Are Going Onto The Flight records his breeding, selection and release of Kefir grains into zero gravity: a metaphor for Russian Cosmism's grandeur and disaster.

Evgeni Nesterov's photographic series documents Star City and the artists' journey there.

Accompanying the exhibition in the Resource Room, the MIR programme of documentary and artists films:
Gravitation Off! The Arts Catalyst
Centrifuge Ewen Chardronnet
The Briefing Ewen Chardronnet
Neutral Buoyancy Ewen Chardronnet
Too G Andrew Kotting
Zero Genie Ansuman Biswas & Jem Finer
Daedalo Marcelli Antunez Roca
Zero Mike Stubbs
Universal Substitute, Andrei & Julia Velikanov

Everything Normal, the equipment is working perfectly

Thursday 07 April 2005

As part of the MIR - Dreams of Space season, Stills and The Arts Catalyst presented a special screening event recalling the early days of the space race. Introduced by Rob La Frenais, curator of MIR and The Arts Catalyst, the programme opens with Attention Weightlessness, a Russian educational film, and continues with films by Acoustic Space Lab, Andrei Ujica, The Priviet Mission, Louise K Wilson, Andrew Kotting and Ansuman Biswas & Jem Finer

Commissioners

MIR was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium, a group of international organisations including Arts Catalyst, Projekt Atol (Slo), V2_Institute for the Unstable Media (NI), Transmediale (D), Leonardo/OLATS (Fr/Us), SpaceArtONe (FR), MoM (Sp) and the Multimedia Complex for Actual Art

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SPACE SOON: Art and Human Spaceflight

"We are all already in Space... "

Major new commissions by Aleksandra Mir, N55/Neal White, and London Fieldworks
Projects by Michelle Griffiths, Jerry Dammers, Kodwo Eshun, Resonance FM and Laurie Anderson and a special appearance by Apollo astronaut Alan Bean.

This was Buckminster Fuller's reported response to the first flight into space by Yuri Gagarin. Artists - caught between fascination and repulsion by the new millennial push to Mars and return to the Moon - are still trying to decode the manual to Spaceship Earth.

For a short, intense period the Roundhouse was transformed into a rocket factory for a rocket going nowhere - Gravity by Aleksandra Mir. Outside, N55 and Neal White’s Space on Earth Station reversed into the future, while in the labyrinth of Roundhouse Studios, London Fieldworks investigated long-term space travel in SpaceBaby, while on the upper floors Michelle Griffiths constructed her Lunar Capsule. In the lead up to, and over the five days of its duration, Space Soon unfolded a spectacular succession of art and space events.

Major new commissions:

Gravity - Aleksandra Mir

Gravity was a monumental, ephemeral scuplture, a 22-metre rocket of giant junk, reaching to the top of the Roundhouse main space, built and dismantled in just 5 days. Click on the link opposite to see a film of the making of Gravity.

Space on Earth Station - N55 / Neal White

Radical Danish architects N55 and UK artist Neal White constructed and inhabited a Mars base-type series of microdwellings, taking over the entirety of the Roundhouse car park, in order to explore our terrestrial neighbourhood.

SpaceBaby - London Fieldworks

A durational sleep experiment and installation by artists London Fieldworks, investating long-term sleep and hibernation, with the University of Leicester Department of Genetics.

Lunar Capsule - Michelle Griffiths

Lunar Capsule was a whimsical Victorian butterfly-powered spaceship reminiscent of that in Jules Verne’s Earth to the Moon.

Events:

Taking Control

Symposium exploring the future of space exploration from the human perspective.

Cosmic Engineers: Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra - Tribute to Sun Ra + Special Screening of Out of the Present

The premiere of Jerry Dammers' new Spatial AKA Orchestra, presenting a tribute to the legendary jazz composer Sun Ra, and special screening of Andrei Ujica’s cult Russian space film Out of the Present.

Secret Artist on the Moon: Apollo astronaut Alan Bean

Legendary Apollo astronaut, Alan Bean, discussed his experience of being on the moon, the impact of spaceflight on the human mind, and the power of art.

Brilliant Noise - Glorious Soviet Cosmos

Film night with Alexei Federchenko's First on the Moon, Jane & Louise Wilson's Dream Time, and Semiconductor's Brilliant Noise.

Laurie Anderson in conversation

Laurie Anderson, NASA's former artist-in-residence returned to the UK, after the success of her show End of the Moon, to reflect on her NASA experience and her visit with The Arts Catalyst to Russia’s space programme with the writer and theorist Kodwo Eshun.

We're All Going to Die

Resonance FM's operatic, radiophonic concatenation of space ephemera and near-Earth collision paranoia. Featuring the divergent talents of Ken Hollings, DJ Original Bear, Tom McCarthy, Johny Trunk, DJ Rocket 88, Resonance Radio Orchestra and Lembit Opik MP.
Resonance FM
broadcasted live from the Roundhouse throughout Space Soon.

Near Earth: a week of space creation

In the lead up to Space Soon, The Arts Catalyst and Roundhouse Studios organised a week-long workshop for young people aged 14-19 years, taking them on a journey exploring space through digital photography, animation, sound and music, drama and the performing arts.

Links to artists' websites:

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Marching Plague

A film that presents a strong critique of UK-US bioweapons research

Filmed on location on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, Critical Art Ensemble’s film Marching Plague presents a powerful critique of UK-US bioweapons research and addresses the paranoia surrounding bioterrorism. It centres on the recreation of secret sea trials conducted by the UK government in the 1950s.

In May 2004, FBI agents and the Joint Terrorism Task Force raided Critical Art Ensemble founder Steve Kurtz’s home, seizing art works and research materials for the Marching Plague project. The US government has yet to produce evidence that Kurtz is a bioterrorist, but they refuse to return the seized materials. Despite this, Kurtz was able to reconstruct the research and produce Marching Plague, commissioned by Arts Catalyst, and an accompanying publication, published by Autonomedia (2006).

 

Marching Plague

In the early 1950s, plague research trials took place off the Isle of Lewis at Stornoway Bay when, having already decided that germ warfare was of no use on land, the British military began to explore whether germs could be used as a naval weapon for ship-to-ship combat. Their tests found that germs were unreliable and unmanageable on the sea as they were on the land.

The film's ultimate aim is to address and dispel some of the public's fear of "bioterrorism", which has been greatly exaggerated since 9/11 (even though that attack had nothing to do with the use of biological agents). This exaggerated fear is based on incomplete awareness of the facts. Moreover, this type of fear has been exploited by governments over the past eight decades to initiate biological warfare programmes at enormous cost.

As the United States returned to an astronomically expensive policy of offensive and expanded germ warfare research, the film revisited the lessons already experienced in regard to the development and use of this technology. It tries to convey a more reasoned perspective about the level of risk to the public as well as the desirability of germ warfare weapons (even within the logic of the military) than is usually presented in more "sensational" fiction or even in television docu-dramas. Finally, the film aims to show how such programmes compete for the limited resources necessary for research in global public health, and emergent infectious disease.

Bioweapons experts and artists, including Heath Bunting and Kayle Brandon, join Steve Kurtz, Steve Barnes and Lucia Sommer of Critical Art Ensemble to discuss bioterrorism, the culture of fear and artistic censorship.

Screenings & Installations

4 Mar 2006 AV Festival, Newcastle, UK

Mar - May 2006 Whitney Biennial, New York, USA

28 Apr 2006 Taigh Chearsabhagh Arts Centre, Lochmaddy, Isle of North Uist,

Outer Hebrides, Scotland

28 Apr – 1 Oct 2006 The Culture of Fear, Halle 14, Leipzig, Germany

24 May 2006 Eyebeam, New York, USA

30 May 2006 Lewis Film Society, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, UK

29 July 2006 ICA, The Mall, London, UK (event, film screening, talk)

29 Jul - 5 Aug 2006 ICA, The Mall, London, UK (installation)

Sep 2006 AFI, Seoul, South Korea

Lens Political. Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland

The Royal Danish Art Academy, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon, Israel

Days of Bioart 07. Espacio de Consulta_Centre d'Art, Santa Mònica, Bacelona, Spain

NEGATEC. Espacio Fundación Telefónica, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Stavanger Biennial, Norway

Free Party. Moscow Art Center, Moscow.

Public Moment. Art Forum International, Seoul, South Korea.

On the Edge. Aarhus Kunstbygning.

Biennial of Electronic Art, Perth, Australia

Link to artists' website

Critical Art Ensemble

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Interspecies, London

Interspecies uses artistic and participatory strategies to stimulate dialogue and debate, showing artists in contact with real animals and negotiating a new power relationship, questioning the way we view our interactions with animals during Darwin's anniversary year.

Interspecies asks: Can artists work with animals as equals? If not, what is the current state of the human-animal relationship? It has recently been shown that humans are closer to the higher primates than previously thought, with chimpanzee and gorilla behaviour reflecting politics, deception and even possibly creativity. What does this mean to the way we see ourselves as one species inhabiting a planet in crisis?

This exhibition centres around a durational work by Kira O'Reilly and draws together projects by Nicolas Primat and other artists who question the one-sided manipulation of non-human life-forms for art, and have tried to enter the animals' point of view as a fundamental part of their practice. It has to some extent been inspired by Donna Haraway'sWhen Species Meet but was triggered by discussions with the late Nicolas Primat.

The artists

Nicolas Primat specialised in directly working with monkeys and apes in collaboration with primatologists. In Portrait de Famille, he is playfully swarmed by a tribe of squirrel monkeys, in Demo Bonobo, he established a relationship via sexual signals with a group of Bonobo apes and in The Making of Les Petits Hommes Vers he and his colleagues make a science fiction film with a group of monkeys.

Kira O'Reilly's durational performance Falling Asleep With A Pig. The artist and pig (Deliah) cohabit a living space, partially viewable by the public for 72 hours. At some point the pig and artist fall asleep. The work addresses the ethics of human and animal interaction, acknowledging the implicit ambivalences and violence in the appropriation of animals as a resource.

Antony Hall's Enki Experiment 4 allows visitors to Interspecies to communicate with an electric fish on the same level, avoiding the use of language, instead stimulating a shared empathy through a physical connection. 

Ruth Maclennan's films Harry and Three short films on Hawks and Men explore the relationship between a bird of prey and the human being who trains it, capturing the rapt gaze of hunter and bird, recalling ancient ideas of shape-shifting and shamanic transformations. 

Rachel Mayeri's Primate Cinema: Baboons as Friends juxtaposes footage of baboons taken in the field with a re-enactment by human actors, shot film noir style in a bar in Los Angeles. A tale of lust, jealousy, sex and violence transpires simultaneously in non-human and human worlds.

Beatriz da Costa's work PigeonBlog proposes an alternative way to participate in environmental air pollution data-gathering through equipping urban homing pigeons with GPS-enabled sensing devices. PigeonBlog is intended as a social experiment between humans and animals.

Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson's Radio Animal involves a specially designed caravan in which the artists to travel to various locations in the UK to gather material from people about their relationship to animals. They are particularly interested in animals that are considered ‘unwelcome’ visitors but have for whatever reason found their way into what we may consider our own territories.  Animal Radio is a Story Gallery, Lancaster commission funded by the Henry Moore Foundation.

Events

Interspecies included two symposia chaired by Rob La Frenais:

Non-Human Primates with Sarah-Jane Vick - primatologist and psychologist; Patrick Munck - artist, videographer and collaborator with Nicolas Primat; Rachel Mayeri - artist

Animals, Humans and Power with Giovanni Aloi - editor Antennae; Ruth Maclennan - artist; Helen Macdonald, author of Falcon; Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir; Karen Knorr - artist and photographer

Rachel Mayeri also held two Primate Cinema workshops on How to Act like an Animal as part of the exhibition

Links to artists' websites

Kira O'Reilly, Antony Hall, Ruth Maclennan, Rachel Mayeri, Beatriz da Costa, Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson

Supported by

Arts Council England, Darwin 200, A Foundation

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Escape Vehicle No 6

Live event and film of Escape Vehicle No 6 at The Artists Airshow.

Simon Faithfull’s remarkable Escape Vehicle No.6 started as a live event commissioned by The Arts Catalyst for its first International Artists Airshow. The live audience witnessed the launching of a weather balloon with a domestic chair dangling in space beneath it. Once the apparatus had disappeared into the sky, they then watched a live video relay from the weather balloon on a giant screen as it journeyed from the ground to the edge of space (30km up).

Now presented as a non-live video work, the footage shows the chair first rush away from the fields and roads, ascend through clouds and finally (against the curvature of the earth and the blackness of space) begin to disintegrate. The chilling nature of the film is that the empty chair invites the audience to imagine taking a journey to an uninhabitable realm where it is impossible to breath, the temperature is minus 60 below and the sky now resembles the blackness of space.

External links:

YouTube Escape Vehicle No 6

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Nuclear: Art & Radioactivity

The Nuclear exhibition explores these intricacies through two new commissioned works by Chris Oakley and Simon Hollington & Kypros Kyprianou.

Nuclear power is re-emerging as a concern for our times, both as a generator of energy and as part of a defence strategy. Today it seems to stand for the failed utopian promises of modernism and a fresh hope for a carbon-free future. The contradictions that lie at its core have provided a rich source of questioning for artists, scientists, ecologists and activists for many years.

Last year, high court judge Jeremy Sullivan caused an apparent setback to the government's nuclear energy ambitions by ruling that public consultation into the creation of a new fleet of nuclear power stations was "misleading" and "seriously flawed". Soon after these events, Simon Hollington & Kypros Kyprianou started a residency at The British Atomic Nuclear Group as part of a public perceptions programme. Hollington & Kyprianou's work in Nuclear is the outcome from this residency, particularly their work within B.A.N.G's wide-ranging public consultation into the possibility of siting a nuclear power facility in the heart of London. Their new installation, 'The Nightwatchman' traces changing perceptions of the nuclear power industry over its 50 year history through a single immersive narrative environment, blending fact and fiction into a darkly humorous journey through hard-nosed PR and spin to a logical hysteria.

Chris Oakley's new film Half-life looks at the histories of Harwell, birthplace of the UK nuclear industry, and the new development of fusion energy technology at the Culham facility in Oxfordshire. Oakley gained the cooperation of both these organisations in his research and filming. The film examines nuclear science research through a historical and cultural filter. With the recent widespread acceptance of the reality of climate change driven by carbon dioxide emissions, the work explores the realities and myths surrounding the nuclear sciences.

Events

Nuclear Talkaoke, 3-7 pm, Friday 14 November 2008, Nicholls and Clarke Building, 3-10 Shoreditch High Street, Spitalfields, London E1
Hosted by The People Speak, the Talkaoke is a mobile chat-show  which will allow visitors to comment on the work and the issues around it in an informal and entertaining way.

Nuclear Forum 10am-6pm, Friday 28 November 2008, at The Royal Society of Arts (RSA), 8 John Adam Street, WC2N 6EZ

Partners

In partnership with RSA Arts & Ecology, Arts Catalyst and SCAN present a forum exploring the impact of nuclear power in art and culture. Prominent artists, writers and experts discuss their work and engagement with the issues around nuclear energy, from Hiroshima through the 50s' white heat of technology and the Cold War nuclear tensions to present day energy debates.

Speakers

James Acord, artist and 'nuclear sculptor'
Keith Barnham (Imperial College)
Paul Dorfman (Warwick University), expert on nuclear consultation and radioactivity risks,
Kate Hudson (LSBU), chair of CND and editor of the journal Contemporary Politics
Kyp Kyprianou & Simon Hollington,artists
Steve Kurtz, artist and activist, Critical Art Ensemble (by video link)
Gustav Metzger, artist and activist, founder of Auto-Destructive Art
Chris Oakley, artist
Pam Skelton, artist (Central St Martins College of Art)
John Wills (Kent University), historian, author of Conservation Fallout, a look at nuclear protest in California


Reviews

The Telegraph
Critial Art Network
Turbulance


Links to artsts' websites

Chris Oakley, Simon Hollington & Kypros Kyprianou

Video and photo archive of The Nightwatchman

Supported by

Nuclear: art & radioactivity is commissioned and produced by Arts Catalyst with SCAN media arts agency, and in association with RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce) Arts & Ecology. Arts Catalyst and SCAN are funded by Arts Council England.

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The Case of the Deviant Toad

Ballengee's artistic practice is immersed in the study and exchange of ideas around biodiversity and ecological change, and particulary focuses on global species decline.

New York artist, activist and ecological researcher, Brandon Ballengee brings his startling high-resolution scanner photographs, video and preserved specimens of deformed toads to the Royal Institution for his first London solo exhibition: The Case of the Deviant Toad. The show, exploring issues of biodiversity and ecological change, presented the outcome of the artist's 'Ecoactions' and study of UK amphibians commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Ballengée's artistic practice warns of high incidences of amphibian deformity in response to environmental degradation through his creation of aesthetically rich images and intriguing installations. 

In the exhibition, Ballengée presents variations of his sculptural series Styx which display cleared and stained specimens of deformed toads, each tiny animal presented in a precisely illuminated glass dish. In a gallery context, the specimens resemble translucent gems; enchanting, terrible and other-worldly. Framed watercolour prints of detailed vibrant specimens scans are reminiscent of x-rays, presenting large-scale images of fragile delicacy to invoke viewers' empathy.

The free exhibition at the Royal Institution, The Case of the Deviant Toad, coincides with the launch of a new publication of Malamp: The Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians by Brandon Ballengée.

Publication

Malamp, The Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians by Brandon Ballengée. A monograph, jointly published by The Arts Catalyst and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, brings together Ballengée’s UK research with findings from his global amphibian studies. It includes texts on his practice from arts, science and ecological perspectives, including a keynote essay by the renowned art critic and curator Lucy R Lippard. Additional contributors include Clare Lilley, Head Curator at Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Nicola Triscott, Director of The Arts Catalyst; Dr Stanley K Sessions, Professor of Biology, Hartwick College and Dr Kerry Kriger, Director of Save the Frogs. The publication is richly illustrated with extraordinary photographs, Ballengée’s drawings and other artworks.

Malamp: The Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians, Brandon Ballengée. Edited by Nicola Triscott/Miranda Pope. 72 page, softback. £15.95. ISBN 978-0-9534546-7-9

Full picture credits

Scanner photographs of cleared and stained multi-limbed Pacific Tree frogs from Aptos, California in created in scientific collaboration with Dr Stanley K Sessions. MALAMP titles in collaboration with the poet KuyDelair; Unique Digital chromogenic prints on watercolor paper, 2001-07. Courtesy the artist, New York City and Nowhere Gallery, Milan.

Detail: Cleared and stained deformed Pacific treefrog from Styx sculpture installed at the Biotechnique Exhibition, Yerba Beuna Center for the Arts, San Francisco 2007. Malamp drawings, 1997-2000 of deformed Pacific Treefrogs from California. Polluted pond water, ash, and leftover coffee on artist-reconstituted paper. Photographs Foto22 courtesy of the artist and private collection, New York City.

Malamp drawings, 1997-2000 of deformed Pacific Treefrogs from California. Polluted pond water, ash, and leftover coffee on artist-reconstituted paper. Photographs Foto22 courtesy of the artist and private collection, New York City.

External links

The International Year of BiodiversityMalamp UK Youtube Video, Antennae Issue 10, Green Museum, Eco Art Space, Archibald Arts, Wave Hill, Malamp

Partner websites

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Royal Institute of Great Britain

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