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Bio Art & Design from the Sea to the Soul

Even, or maybe especially, in times of a global pandemic it is crucial to experiment, think and be creative in the field of art connecting to the (life) sciences and working with living matter. This year's exhibition has an extra festive ring to it, as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the BAD Award.

Evolutionaries offers a thrilling survey of the complex ways in which our shared concepts of nature, identity, culture and all that is living are fluid and in flux. The BAD Award projects, as ever, go beyond science communication. They zoom in on aesthetic and often also ethical aspects enabled by discoveries in the life sciences and the applications of biotechnology: from the possibility of same-sex biological parents and the colonial origin of zombie stories in relation to virology, to what can be learned from watching a plant play tag with a machine.

Bio art and design, as practiced by this talented pool of international artists, take on the vastness of our polluted seas as well as the disquiet of the souls sensitive to the weight of collective injustice. To the well-tuned ear their work cries for revolution and evolution simultaneously.

Xandra van der Eijk - Ghost Reef (2020)

Ani Liu - The Simulator (2019). Image: Hanneke Wetzer

Next to the winning artists & scientists of this year's competition - Dasha Tsapenko & Han Wösten (University Utrecht), Nadine Botha & Henry de Vries (Amsterdam UMC) and Sissel Marie Tonn & Heather Leslie (VU) & Juan Garcia Valejo (Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc) - we bring together nine winning artists from previous BAD editions, one representing each year. This means the exhibition will comprise of twelve bio art and design installations and projects, some completely new, others building further on earlier works, but all celebrating and intensifying the collaborations and connections between art & science.

Participating artists
Nadine Botha & Henry de Vries (GGD & Amsterdam UMC), Xandra van der EijkJalila EssaïdiAgi HainesCharlotte JarvisCecilia JonssonAni LiuŠpela PetricMichael SedbonCenter for Genomic GastronomySissel Marie Tonn & Heather Leslie (VU) & Juan Garcia Vallejo (Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc), Dasha Tsapenko & Han Wösten (UU)

Angelique Spaninks

Jalila Essaïdi - Double Edged (2020). Image: Hanneke Wetzer

Michael Sedbon - CMD: Experiment in Bio-Algorithmic-Politics 2.0. Image: Hanneke Wetzer

Spela Petric - PL'AI (2020). Image: Hanneke Wetzer

Jury of the BAD Award 2020
William Myers, head of the jury, writer, curator, professor, bioart & design
Fred Balvert, Science communicator Erasmus MC, Science Gallery Rotterdam
Xandra van der Eijk, artist and designer, winner BAD Award 2017, co-curator Polarities 2019
Nienke Binnendijk, Director Blue City Lab (wetlab for biodesign and bioart)
Joyce Lebbink, Principal investigator at the department of Molecular Genetics, Erasmus MC
Simon/e van Saarloos, writer and philosopher
Karen Verschooren, curator and head of exhibitions, STUK Belgium

The winning projects 2020
Becoming a Sentinel Species 
Sissel Marie Tonn, in collaboration with Heather Leslie (Department of Environment and Health, VU Amsterdam) and Juan Garcia Vallejo (Department Molecular Cell Biology & Immunology, Amsterdam UMC - location VUmc) 

Sissel Marie Tonn investigates the issue of microplastics by re-introducing the concept of a sentinel species. An imaginary human guinea pig takes on the task of becoming a sentinel species by introducing microplastics in her blood. By activating old immunological alarmsystems it recalls latent ancient memories of a common origin in the primordial sea. An immersive audiovisual installation invites the audience to connect with the fluid reality of their own bodies and, perhaps, to become sentinel species too.

Dasha Tsapenko, in collaboration with Han Wösten (Microbiology Research Group, UU Utrecht)

Dasha Tsapenko develops a collection of garments for the future that introduces an alternative value system into the fashion industry by looking at agriculture for inspiration. Five coats show the five distinct cycles of our apparel and illustrate how the value of a specific piece increases with every cycle. With its speculative character, the project seeks to challenge the current linear consumption-oriented fashion system and the way we produce our food. 

Image: Hanneke Wetzer

The Orders of the Undead
Nadine Botha, in collaboration with Henry de Vries (Department of Infectious Diseases, Public Health Service (GGD), Amsterdam, and Department of Dermatology, Amsterdam University Medical Centres (AUMC))

Nadine Botha’s project is a participatory research proposal into public health, stigma, othering and viruses, by revisiting one of the most lucrative topical stories in popular culture: zombies. Through an immersive and interactive green screen setup enhanced with augmented reality, participants can re-embody the archetypical zombie film and disentangle the tale of infectious social othering it propagates. The project provokes thought about who the other actually is in stories about outbreaks and public health that currently dominate our everyday reality.

Image: Hanneke Wetzer