Jennifer Willet: Laboratory Ecologies

Laboratory Ecologies
Jennifer Willet

Mar 25 – May 13, 2017
Opening Reception: March 25, 2:00 – 5:00 pm
Artists Talk presented by the Hamilton Arts Council’s Echo Artist Talk Series: March 23, 7:00 pm at Mills Hardware (95 King St. E.)

Hamilton Artists Inc. is pleased to present Laboratory Ecologies, an immersive participatory bio art installation, and collection of artworks by Windsor-based artist, Jennifer Willet, PhD. Willet’s internationally renowned, seminal interdisciplinary practice combines contemporary visual art, biology and ecology. Grounded by colorfully modified, yet functional laboratory equipment, the exhibition mines laboratory aesthetics, and the messages that contemporary lab equipment design communicates to users. The visual language of cold, sterile, masculine, steel/plastic/glass used in laboratory technology design conveys a gendered, authoritative, and Western hierarchy of objective truth telling to audiences. Where as, Willet’s modified lab equipment visually re-connects this equipment to the bodies (and bodily functions) it attempts to re-create, the natural world, and the human drive to dominate nature through the natural sciences.

Exploring these connections between the human body and laboratory processes, Willet likens the lab environment to a complicated natural ecosystem; a carefully balanced relationship between a variety of organisms (and parts of organisms) inhabiting a shared environment: animal and human research subjects, cells, bacteria, enzymes, plants, the scientists themselves, and even unwanted contaminants engaging in mutually beneficial and detrimental relationships. Although these life forms are often not allowed to leave the lab, their by-products and research implications are transforming our bodies, our ecologies, and by extension our cultural and social connections with each other and the natural world. The equipment in Laboratory Ecologies, through its modification and display, makes disciplines of biology, ecology, and the laboratory environment accessible to a diverse array of audiences by disarming viewers through its unique, quirky and colourful presentation.

This exhibition is accompanied by a critical essay written by Roberta Buiani and can be downloaded HERE.

Dr. Jennifer Willet is an internationally successful artist in the emerging field of BioArt. Her work resides at the intersection of art and science, and explores notions of representation, the body, ecologies, and interspecies interrelations in the biotechnological field.  She engages in performance, installation, photography and sculpture based artistic practices, mixed with protocols and life forms from the biological sciences.
 
From 2000-2007 Willet and Shawn Bailey collaborated on an innovative computational, biological, artistic, project called BIOTEKNICA.  Since 2008 she has also collaborated with UK based performance artist Kira O’Reilly.  She has taught in Studio Arts at Concordia University, and at the Art and Genomics Centre at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, and now works as an Associate Professor in the School of Creative Arts, at The University of Windsor.  In 2009 she opened the first biological art lab in Canada, called INCUBATOR Art Lab.  In 2017 Willet will open a new BSL2 Bioart theatre/laboratory as part of the UWindsor downtown arts corridor.

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