Metabolic Arts Gathering
In 2023 Medical Museion invites artists to a series of artistic conversations around metabolism.
The Metabolic Arts Gathering explores art-science and metabolism through a series of monthly meetings with readings, discussions, and art sharing over the course of 2023 at Medical Museion in Copenhagen, Denmark. Meetings will take place in February, March, April, September, October and November 2023.
Metabolic Arts Gathering (MAG) is meant as an experiment; an open-ended process of coming together to see what happens when a group of artistic practitioners engage in sustained, topical conversation over time. Our outcomes are our conversations, which we hope will stimulate future collaborations and art making as we ask questions around what it means to develop metabolic arts and ask what a metabolic aesthetic can be.
Open Call for Artist Participation (Open call is over)
We invite artists to be a part of the metabolic conversation around arts and seek different levels of experience with biology/science, as well as a variety of mediums. There are no required outputs: we simply ask you to engage in metabolic thought and let your art and ideas take you to new processes. Participating artists will be asked to be available for six day-long group workshops, plus an introductory and a final workshop, as well as 2.5 hours for art-science research interviews and will be compensated for their time at a rate of 60,000 DKK with a small additional pool of funds for international artists to help off-set travel costs.
As STS theorist Hannah Landecker has observed, at the cusp of the body and the world, metabolisms are ubiquitous but may be most noticeable in states of dysfunction (see note 1). These dysfunctions are the basis of medical sciences, the source of new ways of conceiving of ecological relations in a climate-changed world, and are a longstanding way of diagnosing philosophical indigestions, but they might also provide new modes of intervention by the arts. Ever-changing, metabolism can be the constant that brings methodological tendencies to the fore as a shared subject, and yet the variable understandings of metabolism give rise to novel metabolic unfoldings so that our studies need not be bounded by the current state of metabolic science and indeed, as Art, Science, and Technology Studies scholars would argue, this is best understood in its social, political, philosophical, and historical contexts.
Metabolism serves many possible needs for scholars by providing metaphors, models, puzzles, solutions and balances, but what art might do with metabolism needs further exploration. While we want to encourage studies which keep close to the bodily, medical, scientific, environmental, agricultural, and technical modes of the concept, to avoid, for example, metaphors which take leave of the subject in favor of using the idea of metabolism interchangeable with a concept like change or process, what metabolic science is today is built on a stack of ever-modified metaphors, including the metabolism as an engine or motor (fast/slow and often an emphasis on the notion of fuel/energy sources), furnace (hot/cold), “chain reactions,” “chemical cascades,” the “chemical carnival,” and many others. Art-science has made much of science as implicated in metaphor thinking, as even the classic experiment asks us to make correspondence between the specific findings on the bench and the broader world, a mode we find often in the arts. This extends out to our public understandings of science and of art, often with further analogies which both simplify and make more culturally complex these concepts.
Metabolic Studies are increasingly drawing links between disciplines which have worked on notions of metabolism in the individual towers and now seeing the possibilities of exchange are seeking alliances to compare and contrast the modes of disciplinary thought on these issues and ton collectively encounter the gardner challenges related to metabolism, including metabolic dysfunctions on a bodily, social, and earth-wide scale. As John Bellamy Foster (1999) explains, Marx conceived this metabolic rift as a separation “between humanity and the soil, reflected in the antagonism of town and country.” (see note 2). An increasing number of scholars have begun to formulate approaches from political science to poetics, and most recently the Metabolic Arts, which may overlap with bioart, critical design, biodesign, ecoart, climate and environmental arts, and more.
From the vantage point of Medical Museion, it is clear that there is an aesthetics of metabolism drawn from the visual aids which have been part of the development of metabolic sciences and constitute an important part of the public understanding of metabolism. But there also exists a lively debate underway in contemporary art about the stuff and processes of life which is of critical value to Metabolic Studies relation to publics and critical modes of thought about metabolic science and metabolisms in society. Following an ASTS approach which insists on treating the power dynamics of art and science as crucial to the context of the production of such works, we solicit a conversation with artists already engaged and ready to engage in conversations about metabolism in and out of bodies, across history, in and between cultures, and individual and social worlds, theorized and embodied.
Participant Time Commitment and Compensation
Participation in the Metabolic Arts Gathering is a commitment to an experience of conversation and exchange around art practice and art-science with and about metabolism. We hope to create a leaky process which drifts between metabolic science, art-science works, and the practices of those selected for MAG.
- Participating artists will be asked to be available for six group workshops, plus an introductory and a final workshop, as well as for art-science research interviews. Each monthly workshop meeting will last a full day. Meetings will take place in February, March, April, September, October and November 2023
- Participants will be asked to share their artistic practice through in-person or virtual studio visits/practice presentations.
- Participating artists will be compensated for their time at a rate of 60,000 DKK with a small additional pool of funds for international artists to help off-set travel costs.
Application and Deadline
- The application can be accessed here: Fill out application
- Applications are due November 9, 2022.
- For more information contact Hannah Star Rogers email@example.com
Medical Museion is a museum and research unit in Copenhagen, Denmark, dedicated to the history of health and disease from a cultural perspective. Recent exhibitions have included the work of contemporary artists and Metabolic Arts research, funded by Novo Nordisk through the Center for Basic Metabolic research hosted by the University of Copenhagen, is on-going. Medical Museion is housed in a former Surgeons training building from 1787 on Bredgade in Frederiksstaden.
Hannah Star Rogers holds the postdoctoral fellowship of art and science, funded by Novo Nordisk, at Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen. She holds a PhD from Cornell University in Science and Technology Studies and an MFA from Columbia University. She is the author of Art, Science, and the Politics of Knowledge (MIT Press) and the lead editor of the Routledge Handbook of Art, Science, and Technology Studies. Rogers works as a curator for art and science exhibits including “Emerge: Artists and Scientists Redesign the Future” at Arizona State University and “Art’s Work in the Age of Biotechnology: Shaping Our Genetic Futures” at North Carolina State University and the University of Pittsburgh. Her exhibition “Making Science Visible: The Photography of Berenice Abbott,” 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.
Adam Bencard is Associate Professor in Medical Humanities at the Medical Museion in Copenhagen, and affiliated with The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research’s section for Metabolic Science in Culture. His work oscillates between curatorial work, which has included research-led art/science exhibition projects such as The World is in You at Kunsthal Charlottenborg and Mind the Gut, winner of the 2019 UMAC Exhibition Award at Medical Museion. His research focuses on exploring of the complex interweaving of culture and contemporary biomedical research, particularly as it weaves together bodies and environments in new forms. This has included work on the cultural and philosophical impact of microbiome research, as well as a long-term engagement with the history and cultural context of metabolic science, both as an exploration of what it means to be human in a post-genomic world.
1: Landecker, Hannah. “Metabolism, in Three Parts.”Dialectic and Paradox: Configurations of the Third in Modernity. Eds.: Berhard Malkmus and Ian Cooper Peter Lang. (2013): 193-224.
2: Foster, John Bellamy. “Marx’s Theory of Metabolic Rift: Classical Foundations for Environmental Sociology.” American Journal of Sociology 105, no. 2 (1999): 366–405. https://doi.org/10.1086/210315.
Photo: Baum and Leahy, Cometabolise: A Holobiont Dinner, 2021. Detail, The World is in You, Medical Museion and Kunsthal Charlottenborg, 2021. Photo by David Stjernholm. Courtesy of the artists.