As part of EU project Trust Me, I’m an Artist, Medical Museion will be exhibiting the living artwork Heirloom, staging a public debate about the use of human materials in science and art, and hosting hands-on workshops.
In Heirloom, artist Gina Czarnecki and her scientific collaborators have created living portraits of her daughters’ faces, grown from cells taken from the inside of their cheeks. The portraits raise questions about identity – is it to be found in our physical appearance or in biological building blocks such as cells and DNA? The art work also raises questions about when science and arts should be allowed to experiment with human materials, and about ownership of our cells. These questions will be discussed by an expert panel at the public event Your Cells in their Hands? Practical techniques for working with cells will be tried and debated in Cellcraft workshops.
Heirloom complements the exhibition The Body Collected at Medical Museion, which examines how scientists have collected bodily materials to gain medical knowledge. The artwork offers a vision of how we could collect both our cells and our physical form – a ‘biobank’ of the future. Placing the two exhibitions alongside each other also invites us to compare how scientists and artists produce new insights from biological materials.
The project is supported by: Arts Council England, The creative Europe Programme of the European Union, The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research and Arbejdsmarkedets Feriefond. See more here.
Read more about the project team here. All photographs copyright Gina Czarnecki.