The complexities of contemporary life fundamentally challenge the way we understand ourselves as biological entities within larger ecosystems. Biological Agents focuses on the work of Brandon Ballengée, Caitlin Berrigan, and Natalie Jeremijenko: three artists who engage the intimate participation of organisms and the public to investigate what it means to be human, to be animal, and to have personal and social agency. In addition, the show’s Knowledge Virus Research Station offers visitors a diverse collection of small-press zines, view-master reels and web projects disseminating information on biological topics from a variety of creative perspectives.
Brandon Ballengée’s MALAMP project explores the mysterious malformations and global decline of amphibians through ecology, aesthetics, and participatory practice. Collaborating with biologists and local citizens, his photographs and installations create a both a visual and material dialogue on the effects of environmental change on native ecologies.
Caitlin Berrigan uses her Viral Confections and Viral Shelter projects to create intimate, virally-structured space within the gallery where visitors are invited to consume edible chocolates shaped into the molecular structure of the hepatitis C virus. A carrier of the virus herself, Berrigan will share her handmade chocolates with visitors during the opening reception in exchange for personal dialogue, igniting public discussion and fostering awareness around this prevalent and under-recognized disease.
Natalie Jeremijenko’s site-specific installations and collaborative projects engage the interfaces of animal/human life in urban ecosystems. Her Environmental Health Clinic proposes animal-collaborative prescriptions that both provoke and provide closer examination of environmental quality in contemporary urban-nature. For Biological Agents she fosters interaction with tadpoles, migrating coyotes, and local pigeons as a means to assess and intervene in the health of our shared ecologies.
Wednesday, October 22, 6:00pm, Gallery 400 Lecture Room
Screening of Critical Art Ensemble’s Marching Plague and Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Strange Culture, exploring Critical Art Ensemble member Steve Kurtz’s bio-art (and alleged “bioweapons”) case. Accompanied by discussion about the work and the case with CAE collaborator Claire Pentecost, Associate Professor, SAIC.
Panel Discussion, Date and Location TBA
Lori Andrews, Chicago-Kent College of Law, IIT; Hannah Higgins, UIC Associate Professor of Art History; and Andrew Yang, SAIC, exhibition co-curator and biologist. Moderated by Lennard Davis, UIC Project Biocultures and Professor of English, Disability Studies and Medical Education.
Gallery 400 events are FREE.
Biological Agents: Artistic Engagements in our Growing Bio-Culture
October 14 – November 22, 2008
Opening Reception: October 15, 2008, 5-8pm
University of Illinois at Chicago
Art and Design Hall, First Floor
400 S. Peoria Street (at Van Buren Street)