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WA Now – Biomess – The Tissue Culture & Art Project (Oron Catts / Ionat Zurr)

BY Art Gallery of WA | 10-Jul-2018
Is it art? Science? Or both. Including a range of strange, bewildering, rarely seen and, just maybe, brand new organisms, this exhibition defies categorisation. In the anniversary year of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the provocative project asks some moral as well as creative questions about how science operates today and might in the future.
Based at the University of Western Australia, SymbioticA hosted the research of The Tissue Culture and Art Project (Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr). The artists have been exploring the intersections of science and art since 1996.

Together, and with their expanded team of artists and scientists, they explore the creative and ethical implications of developments in the biological sciences. They investigate about what science is doing, what it is capable of, and how our conceptions of life might be altered in the process and how futures might be shaped accordingly. In doing so, they also open up important questions about how we categorise life forms that ask us to rethink what it is to be human.

Their innovative work is internationally significant, and they have shown at major galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China, and locally at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Art Gallery of South Australia, National Gallery of Victoria and the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery.

This exhibition, Biomess, is timed to coincide with the celebration of the 200th year since the publication of Mary Shelley’s gothic horror novel Frankenstein. In response, it looks at existing “Frankensteins” of the natural world, beings that confound our usual ways of thinking about animal life with a creative presentation of specimens from the Western Australian Museum and examples of real life animal “oddities”. It will also include new organicisms grown by the artists themselves at their labs in the University of Western Australia that open up new possibilities for temporary biological structures. Presented in the mode of a high-end retail fit-out, it will also look at the commodification of the natural world.

In their own words: “As life becomes a raw material for human desires, constructed life escapes science labs to become a medium for artistic and consumer products."

Biomess proves that there is nothing natural in nature.

This exhibition is a collaborative project between SymbioticA, Western Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of WA.