New exhibition examines the relationship between mind and gut
Our brain and bowels are under examination in new exhibition Mind the Gut at Medical Museion, opening October 7th. In newly restored basement rooms, the exhibition focuses on the complex relationship between mind and gut through a thought-provoking blend of science, art and history
Brain, gut feelings, identity, bowels, bacteria, microbiomes. All these things are brought together in the new exhibition Mind the Gut, opening October 7th at Medical Museion. The exhibition brings art, science and cultural history together, in order to dissect the relationship between our brains and our guts, and question our understandings of body and identity. The exhibition is set in beautiful, newly-restored rooms in the basement of the museum, which has not been publically accessible until now.
The exhibition shows how doctors, scientists, patients and artists have tried to study and treat the complex relationship between mind and gut. It is a puzzle that has occupied us for millennia, and which is increasingly a focus of contemporary science, fashionable lifestyle trends, and vigorous societal debates about the nature of health and treatment.
”Mind the Gut is a creative and experimental space, designed to foster discussion and reflection about an important issue, which is both in the public eye and a hot topic in science. We challenge the typical division of brain and gut as two isolated organs and open towards new understandings of the body as consisting of complex, interwoven systems. In other words, we try to make our visitors curious about how they understand their own bodies, and leave the exhibition with new perspectives,” says curator and researcher Adam Bencard from Medical Museion, one of the lead curators behind the new exhibition.
Pill machines, yoghurt salons and fecal transplants
Mind the Gut consists of nine themes, built around different actions taken on the body, from cutting open or looking inside to stimulating with electricity. And it is full of great stories. The exhibition draws out our enduring fascination with gut bacteria, for example through the story of the Nobel Prize winning scientist Ilya Mechnikov and a fashionable yoghurt salon on the main shopping street in Copenhagen in 1909. In the work Kathy as Bowie, the American artist Kathy High examines the idea that our gut bacteria play a role in our identity, through photographs of herself as David Bowie, which she offered to Bowie in return for a sample of his feces. And in the installation Pill Machine, the artist Mogens Jacobsen plays with ideas of diagnosis and treatment; visitors engage with a series of machines that ask poetic diagnostic questions, and receive a diagnosis and pill…
”We start from a topic that we all have in common: What it is like to have a body. We invite visitors to meet both the scientist trying to understand the systems of the body, and the patient trying to treat themselves. We want to moved away fromthe search for ‘magic bullets’ and won’t give visitors dietary advice on how to improve their gut bacteria. Rather, we use art, science and cultural history to provide a critical reflection on how the entanglement between mind and gut might change our understanding of ourselves,” says associate professor Louise Whiteley from Medical Museion, the other lead curator on the project.
Medical Museion is part of the Faculty of Health and Medicine at the University of Copenhagen. Mind the Gut is the result of a collaboration between three artists, two scientists, an architect, a graphic designer and curatorial staff. The exhibition is produced by Medical Museion and the NNF Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Section for Science Communication. The five co-curators are the artists Mogens Jacobsen, Naja Ryde Ankarfeldt and Guston Sondin-Kung, and the scientists Marie Balslev Backe and Christian Bache Billesbølle.
Mind the Gut is the winner of the Bikubenfonden Exhibition Award Vision 2015, given to outstanding exhibition concepts. Two of the installations in the exhibition have been supported by the Danish Art Council.