As part of EU project Trust Me, I’m an Artist, Medical Museion will be exhibiting the living artwork Heirloom, staging an ethics debate about the use of human materials in science and art, and hosting hands-on workshops.
In Heirloom, artist Gina Czarnecki and professor of clinic sciences John Hunt have created living portraits of the artist’s daughters, grown from cells taken from the inside of their cheeks and eyelashes. 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 the future of medicine, and invites us to consider how both science and art are regulated. These questions will be discussed at the ethics debate Your Cells in their Hands? on 25th May, and practical laboratory techniques will be tried and discussed in Cellcraft workshops on 27th and 29th May.
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, and how cells are collected, cared for, and understood in these different worlds.
The project also contributes to Medical Museion and the NNF Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR)’s ongoing investigation of how biomedical science can be displayed and communicated. From this perspective, Heirloom experiments with both the capacity of art to reveal the processes and contingencies of biomedicine, and with the impact of hands-on experience on how people view laboratory science.
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.