Art’s Work in the Age of Biotechnology: Shaping Our Genetic Futures will be an art-science exhibit and symposium of artists, scientists, and humanities scholars, led by the NCSU Libraries and the Genetic Engineering and Society Center, held at the Gregg Museum of Art & Design, the physical and digital display spaces of the NCSU Libraries and the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA). These activities will elicit discussion about genetics in society through the lens of contemporary art and offer viewers new ways to think about their role in the genetic revolution.
By combining science and art and design, the artists, and artworks chosen for display, will contextualize genetic engineering by bringing it out of the lab and into public places; challenging viewer’s understandings about the human condition, the material of our bodies, and the consequences of biotechnology. The exhibit(s), integrated curriculum, and cross-campus dialogues will raise awareness and discussion about biotechnologies and their consequences in our society, while drawing in art practices for reaching new communities.
Our project team consists of interdisciplinary scholars and artists from inside and outside NC State. Participating artists include Christina Agapakis, Jon Davis, Richard Pell, Kirsten Stolle, Paul Vanouse, and Adam Zaretsky.
Richard Pell, Transgenic Blue Carnation, 3D anaglyphic photograph, 2015.
Deadline for submission: October 1, 2018 11:59pm EST
Shortlist announced: November 15, 2018
Date of notification: January 15, 2019
Exhibit dates: October 17, 2019–March 15, 2020
This call is open to artists, scientists, designers, and makers at all career stages. Emerging artists, creators who are traditionally underrepresented in the arts and sciences, and artists working outside the U.S. are especially encouraged to apply.
Art’s Work in the Age of Biotechnology: Shaping our Genetic Futures poses the question: How do artists and designers contribute materially, rhetorically, and conceptually to modern biotechnology?
Human engagement with biotechnology through art and culture has a long history: from Popol Vuh creation stories and Mayan representations of agriculture to contemporary artists’ ethical takes on the genomic age. Art’s Work/Genetic Futures extends this history through works that prompt new ways of thinking while emphasizing the historical context of biotechnological innovation, medical practice, and genomic science. By bringing art and modern biotechnology together, we aim to reach toward new understandings about the human condition, our bodies, the environment, and the other species that share the planet.
We are looking for contemporary work and project proposals that will engage viewers in examining how genomic sciences could shape the future of our society. Projects that question and challenge current biotechnology tropes, as well as projects that embrace the transformative potential of biotechnology and biomedicine, are welcome.
We are soliciting a broad range of work that:
- engages viewers in a complex understanding of biotechnology, genomics, and society, and encourages the exchange of nuanced ideas on these topics
- offers a multifaceted visitor experience which challenges and complicates visitors’ views on genomics
- allows for interpretive flexibility
- offers critique that allows for interpretive flexibility
- comments on the social implications of genomic technologies
- influences the shaping of designs of future genomic technologies
- imagines the implications of modern biotechnology practices
- reflects on historical and contemporary methods of genetically modifying organisms, and
- implicates viewers in the ethics and social practices of genomics
We welcome modes of art-making including but not limited to:
- artistic bench science explorations
- work with living material (must indicate in proposal)
- public art, citizen science, tactical media
- film, video, animation, video games, photography
- site-specific installation
- sound art
- traditional fine arts practices, e.g. painting, sculpture, conceptual art
- new media, including virtual and augmented reality, data visualization, maps
Art’s Work/Genetic Futures began as a collaboration between Fred Gould, an evolutionary biologist and co-founder of NC State’s Genetic Engineering and Society Center (GES), and Molly Renda, a designer with NCSU Libraries’ Exhibit Program. Gould wanted to create an art exhibit that addressed the same ethical and practical questions being discussed among GES’s interdisciplinary scholars—including ecologists, social scientists, historians, philosophers, and anthropologists. The Libraries was a natural fit with its record of engaging exhibits, its understanding of the research life cycle, and its access to subject specialists and new technologies. Gould and Renda proposed the concept of a multi-site exhibit to Roger Manley, director of NC State’s Gregg Museum of Art & Design in the months leading up to the opening of their new building. We soon found our curator, Science, Technology, and Society scholar Hannah Star Rogers, whose specialization in the history of art and science was a fortuitous match. Our core planning team also includes GES senior research scholar Todd Kuiken, and Elizabeth Pitts, assistant professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, who formerly served as a postdoctoral researcher at GES.
About the curator: Hannah Star Rogers is a curator, scholar, and poet. She received her MFA in poetry from Columbia University and Ph.D. at Cornell University on the intersection of art and science. She curated Making Science Visible: The Photography of Berenice Abbott, which received an exhibits prize from the British Society for the History of Science and resulted in an invited lecture at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. She is past Director of Research and Collaboration for Emerge: Artists and Scientists Redesign the Future 2016 and served as Guest Bioart Curator for 2017.
Spaces & Technology: The multi-site exhibition will be held simultaneously in NC State University’s Gregg Museum of Art & Design and in the physical and digital display spaces of NCSU Libraries D. H. Hill Exhibit Gallery and the James B. Hunt Jr. Library. Outdoor and/or greenhouse spaces are also available.
Publication: A full-color catalog with essays by the curator and other contributors is planned.
Honoraria: New work is encouraged, but ongoing, relevant projects will be given equal consideration. Art’sWork/Genetic Futures will offer an honorarium of $2,500 to support the artist’s work, shipping to Raleigh, NC, travel, and participation in either a symposium or proposed workshop. Lodging and meals will be provided for visiting artists, as well as return shipment of the borrowed work. Artists will be asked to prepare a short statement about the work. Participating artists will receive three copies of the catalog.