Ausstellungsbesprechungen

Nachlese: [macro]biologies II: organisms, Art Laboratory Berlin, bis 20. Juli 2014

Die zweite Ausstellung aus der Reihe »[macro]biologies & [micro]biologies. Kunst und Lebenswissenschaften im 21. Jahrhundert« zeigte künstlerische Projekte, die sich mit mehrzelligen Organismen auseinander setzen. Dabei ging es sowohl um unsere Beziehungen zu diesen Organismen, als auch darum, wie ihre prekäre Situation mit unserer eigenen in Verbindung steht. Ein Thema, das nachwirkt. Giovanni Frazzetto weiß mehr.

While we are busy pushing the boulder up the spines of our lives, it is easy to ignore, or at least regard only superficially, the wealth and meaning of the biological world that surrounds us. However, as an intrinsic part of it, taking the distance from such world, we also inevitably lose sight on ourselves.

An exhibition at the adventurous Art Laboratory Berlin reminds us that indeed today’s biological world, in both its natural and manipulated forms, can be a priming reference for how we understand who we are and how we live. Entitled »[macro] biologies II: organisms«, the show displays the works of artists who, in one way or another, underline and re-invent our rapport with different kinds of living material.

At the challenging border between sheer visual illustration and scientific experimentation, Brandon Ballengée’s work originates in his own direct interaction with animals in the wild and in the laboratory. In the eight monitors scattered around the floor and making up his »Cry of Silent Forms«, he displays images of intact and deformed specimens of amphibians, counting like individuals, at once autonomous and dependent, visitors can bump into as they walk through the exhibition.

»Crustacea deleatur«, the work by Slovenian artist Maja Smrekar, runs as an experiment for the duration of the exhibition and evokes the concept of invasive species. Covered by a tent-shaped alcove made of cloth and reminiscent of a trophic pyramid, two different species of crayfish populate a two-room aquarium. Separated by a navigable bridge, each species of fish has the potential to cross to the opposite habitat and wed with the other species, enacting and visualising ruptures of genetic and ecological boundaries otherwise not detected in nature.

A true pioneer and constant re-inventor of the bio-art world, New York City artist and art theoretician Suzanne Anker dominates the show with a series of striking pictures and enticing installations. Absolutely central to the exhibition, is Suzanne Anker’s newest work entitled »Petri Panoply«. Spread as a painter’s palette over a high white table, the work consists of a series of open Petri dishes filled with inadvertent combinations of objects. Corpses of crickets lay on a bed of flowers or herbs next to metallic wires, broken glass, raw noodles, tomatoes, a fresh egg or egg-shaped candy, creating layers of nature, at the border between the defunct and the living, past and present, mystery and mundanity.

As the building unit of the artwork and an essential item in laboratory experimentation, the Petri dish becomes a vector for transformation, an incubator for an evolving and permutating co-existence between what is naturally available and what can be manipulated. It also becomes a bridge between our daily lives and revered scientific investigation.

Suzanne Anker’s work is highly lyrical. Sophisticated in its concept and delivery, it encapsulates the depth of a kind of bio-art that originates at once from sharp creativity, thoughtful scholarship and refined aesthetics.

Much as »[macro] biologies« is an exhibition of diverse visible life forms in the outside world, it is also a scrutiny of our place within and interaction with a global biological constellation.

Weitere Informationen

Die Serie wird vom 27. September bis 30. November 2014 mit der Ausstellung »[micro]biologies: the bacterial sublime« fortgesetzt.