Body Clocks

Exhibition Period: January 25 – April 14 2023
In a series of installations, artist Isabella Martin is inspired by scientific research into circadian rhythms.
Displayed in The Maersk Tower in Copenhagen. The installations can only be viewed by appointment.

Intro-
duction

Our bodies are timepieces
In each of our cells, a genetic clock ticks, keeping our bodies in time. The metaphor of the ‘body clock’ is a powerful tool for sharing the science of circadian rhythms with the public. But where is the body in the body clock?

About the Installation
In a series of installations, artist Isabella Martin is inspired by scientific research into circadian rhythms. The project is the result of over two years of collaboration between Martin, curator Kristin Hussey and the circadian scientists of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR). The new works are displayed in the scientific work space of CBMR – The Maersk Tower in Copenhagen.

“There is something incredibly beautiful and also very strange in chronobiology about the idea of being so interconnected with the world around us, down to a cellular level. The artworks in Body Clocks play with this, using the body as a starting point to make imaginative connections between inside and out. In these works muscle tissues turn into moons, hands become clocks, and organs function like hourglasses, each measuring their own time. I’m delighted to install these works at CBMR and share them with the researchers that both inspired and contributed to their creation.”

Isabella Martin, Artist

Art and Science

In Body Clocks, the body is dissected and the border between internal and external becomes permeable. The body is at the heart of science – but it is often broken down into cells, genes and model systems. Through these new works, art is brought back into the scientific center that inspired it – offering an engaging reflection on bodies, time, and scientific working practices.

This project is the result of over two years of collaboration between Martin, Hussey and the circadian scientist of CBMR. Displayed in different locations throughout Center, the works aim to provoke and inspire the scientists to ask new questions about their research.

Art-science projects are usually displayed in art galleries – removed from their original scientific context. We hope by integrating artworks throughout a working scientific space we can make our own contribution to the research environment at CBMR.”

Kristin Hussey, Curator, Medical Museion/CBMR

“Witnessing firsthand as Isabella and Kristin brought concepts of our inner clocks to life has been incredibly thrilling. The creativity through which they extracted inspiration from oscillating lines of data, blinking and beeping scientific equipment, and 24-hour laboratory protocols and transformed these ideas into thought-provoking and visually stunning artistic works is remarkable. They did this all while maintaining the natural wonder of how we are each, down to our last cell, inextricably and beautifully linked to the very rotation of this planet.”

Zach Gerhart-Hines, Associate Professor, CBMR

“Building on many years of combining humanities and arts perspectives with metabolic research, it’s great to showcase Martin’s intriguing and delightful artworks next to scientific laboratories. We’re excited to hear the responses.”

Ken Arnold, Director, Medical Museion

About
Isabella Martin

Isabella Martin is a visual artist whose practice explores how we fit in the world, how we shape and are shaped by our surroundings. Her work is context specific; driven by interdisciplinary collaboration, experimental play and in-depth research.

Works move across mediums: using sculpture, drawing, sound and film to challenge and play with the systems informing our understanding of the world. Her ongoing research focuses on ideas of measurement, navigation and time in relation to place and the body, through work with an expanding group of scientific collaborators.

Her most recent project WAVE MACHINES explored the measurement of ocean waves by physicists in the Hydraulic Laboratory at the Technical University of Denmark, culminating in The Burning, a film screened at Crosscuts Film Festival, Stockholm in 2019. Over the past year and a half, she has worked closely with researchers at Medicinsk Museion and chronobiologists at CBMR, on Z Time, a project exploring the experience of time in the body through the study of circadian rhythms in the laboratory. One of the outcomes, Time Animals, is presented in Verden er i dig at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, autumn 2021.

Isabella exhibits and participates in residencies and commissions internationally. Recent projects include The Long Wait at UddenSkulptur, Sweden, Outlines commissioned by In-Situ, England, and Keeping Time for Sculpture in the City, London.

Isabella is a co-founder of research and curatorial collective Camp Little Hope and a member of art and game design collective Kosmologym. She holds a BA(hons) in Fine Art Sculpture from Brighton University and an MFA from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts with a Minor in Art, Writing and Research. She lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Visit artist’s website

Credits

This project is made possible by CBMR’s International Postdoctoral Program and a grant in-kind from Statens Værksteder for Kunst (National Art Workshops).

Art: Isabella Martin
Glasswork: Marie Breyen Hauschildt
Curation: Kristin Hussey, Malthe Kouassi Bjerregaard
With support from: Panum Facilities Team, Louise Whiteley, Helle Hald, Peter Stanners, Julie Wouwenaar Tovgaard.

CBMR

Researchers at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) seek to transform the basic understanding of the mechanisms involved in metabolic health and disease, and to accelerate this knowledge toward new prevention and treatment strategies. This research has resulted in seminal discoveries as to how genes, hormones, and environmental factors influence metabolic health and disease throughout life. CBMR belongs to the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

Read more about CBMR

Medical Museion and Kristin Hussey have worked with Isabella Martin before. Read about our previous projects here:

Z-Time – The Art and Science of Circadian Rhythms