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ISEA 2023

16/5/2023 - 21/5/2023, Paris

artist bio

AnneMarie Maes is an artist and researcher who has been active as an independent professional artist since 1999, and as founder and coordinator of several artist collectives. Her work is built on 3 strands: 1. through her deep concern for socio-ecological issues, she creates artworks that stimulate social change, this in the tradition of Joseph Beuys and the Fluxus movement. 2. For many of her projects she uses DIY bio/technology that she develops and integrates in collaboration with fab labs and university research labs. 3. She challenges conventional forms of artistic expression by combining traditional media with living organisms (mainly bees, bacteria and algae). She focuses hereby on the process, working with organically evolving elements and generating an art that creates itself. These 3 action areas translate into 3 long-term projects: Connected OpenGreens, Bee Agency and the Lab for Form and Matter.
AnneMarie has exhibited widely as a solo-artist and in group exhibitions in prestigious musea, galleries, public spaces and art-science festivals in many EU countries, the Americas and Asia.
She was a fellow in international art/science programs, has written articles and academic papers and has published several publications on her work. She realized artworks commissioned for public space, as ‘Closed Circuits’ (Vlaamse Gemeenschap, Brussels) and ‘Elbe Bienen’ for the art in public space program of the city of Hamburg (De). She was awarded several prizes and mentions in prestigeous festivals as Ars Electronica among others. (See full CV at the end of artist portfolio)

thematic statement

My work makes the invisible visible. My research is always on the border between nature, art and science. I create with a range of biological, digital and traditional media, including bacteria and other organisms.
In my practice, making and producing sculptures and textiles is a form of research. The (sometimes lengthy) artistic processes happen in layers, through actions of adding and subtracting. The successive developments of an artwork and its relationship with nature (micro/macro) are essential elements of my work, the concept of scale is very important.
The choice of materials is a primary aspect of my artistic research. I prefer natural and organic components, and I often create in collaboration with living organisms such as bees, bacteria and plants. The physical and aesthetic characteristics of the materials I work with largely determine the forms of the sculptures, objects or textile works. My artworks are attractive to touch and to smell, but they are also aesthetically pleasing to the viewer. In my research, I use scientific methods and biotechnology to explore living systems and ecosystems as artistic subjects. Recently, I started a new research project that delves into the creation of 'Second Skins' (a.k.a. biofilms)made by bacteria and algae. With the proposed bioart installation “Exoskeleton, topography of a second skin,” I want to present an installation that focuses on the transformative power of bacteria. Each detail of the installation is the result of a particular experiment, researched in collaboration with the scientists of the microbiology department of the UniStra (Université de Strasbourg).

artwork proposal

Category: Symbiotic Organizations
Title: Exoskeleton. Topography of a second skin.

We humans are part of a network in which we interact with other forms of existence. This creates a tight network that connects the microscopic with the macroscopic and brings traditional wisdom in harmony with scientific research.
With the installation 'EXOSKELETON. Topography of a second skin’ I want to show how I myself deal with this layered vision and how I translate this thinking into artistic research and into an artwork that explores the importance of our relationship with nature.
The installation is about exploring our relationship to the ground we inhabit. It is necessary to take a closer look at the elements we come in contact with every day, the soil we walk on, and understand its function in the big picture we are all part of together. To clarify this fact in an aesthetic-visual way, I want to make a living installation that includes biotic and a-biotic elements. As part of an ongoing residency, I am working with scientists from the micro-biology lab (led by Dr. Pierre Fetcher) at UniStra (University of Strasbourg). In a series of field workshops, interspersed with research in the lab, we are preparing together an installation that will be shown publicly for the first time in a solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle of Mulhouse (16/2/2023 - 30/4/2023).
The basis of the installation builds on a year-old scientific experiment, a “Winogradski” column. Winogradski columns are a method of taking a snapshot of a sediment environment and studying the microbial communities living there. A Winogradski culture contains a highly diverse micro-ecosystem of soil bacteria and algae. For the installation, soil samples are taken and then cultured for several weeks, resulting in a site-specific work. The work functions as a portrait of the region where the soil samples were taken and represents the detailed complexity of the local environment, its genetic, bacterial and geological profile. Once the culture is sealed tight, it continues to develop independently over time, and the bacterial communities change color, texture and pattern in response to the environment, such as oxygen content, light and temperature. At regular intervals, the responses of the microorganisms to their environment will be monitored through the optical microscope. I will incorporate these images into an artistic edit that will be projected on the wall behind the installation. The installation itself will be set up on a stage measuring 2m by 2m and 40cm high. The undulating miniature landscape will be composed of mosses and lichens. In it, a glass Winogradski container is incorporated on its flat side, as if it were a mirrored pond contained in the landscape. The public can follow the evolution of the bacterial communities over the course of the exhibition.

images, drafts

The installation is not yet existing, but will be an adaptation from this (cfr. picture below) starting point: a Winogradski column will be embedded in an horizontal landscape (on a large plinth), made from mosses and lichen.
The Winogradski glass container will be flat embedded into the moss/lichen-landscape installation, comparable to a pond reflected in a gently undulating landscape. The bacterial activity in the Winogradski container is continuously evolving over the duration of the exhibition.
On the wall (behind the plinth-with-landscape), there will be a projection of several sequences of micrographic photographs - nearly film-like – of the life of the soil bacteria developing in the container, how they form different communities related to the soil.

Winogradski Columns - double lightbox - 72 x 106 x 14, led lights, metal, plexi

Soil Bacteria - video loop, 1'56“ - collaboration UniStra

technical and logistical requirements

A space of at least 4m by 4m + 1 wall connected.
1 wooden plinth of 2m x 2m x 40cm build in that space.
Large flat screen TV or beamer

budget and existing financial support

Estimated budget with production, living material (plants, Winogradski set-up), installation, transport and artist fee included: 6.000€
Existing financial support: Flemish Ministry of Culture and SO-ON artist Studio: ± 6.000€
Not included: Plinth and lights
Not included: Large flat screen or beamer or diapositive projector for the projection of bacterial images

original artistic proposition

Overview installation (will be adapted with moss/lichen landscape on plinth)

Artistic edit of images of soil bacteria in action (projected on the wall behind the installation)

Soil bacteria creating bacterial communities in the Winogradski experiment (related to soil and light conditions)

isea2023.txt · Last modified: 2023/01/31 16:21 by ami