During Anna Dumitriu’s solo exhibition "The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis" she will lead an intensive, accessible workshop over five Saturdays, in collaboration with Dr Simon Park, Dr Melissa Grant and other visiting contributors. The workshop aims to significantly progress techniques and methods for artistic engagement with bacteria. Participants will work hands on with live bacteria, dyes, stitch, and natural and clinical antibiotics. The workshops will make reference the historical objects in the exhibition, and practical bioart experiments will form the basis for discussion.
The workshop is open to deeply interested and engaged members of the public, artists, designers, scientists and researchers – but no prior experience is needed in the specific field. The environment will be supportive and debates and discussions will be open-minded. High standards of health and safety will be observed throughout.
The workshop is free of charge but participants are expected to attend all five sessions (5 x Saturdays, 11am - 5pm, on 15th and 22nd February, 1st, 15th and 22nd March 2014). Places are very limited, if you book a place and cannot attend then please let us know so it can be offered to someone else.
The workshop will take place in a specially constructed lab space within the gallery and will respond to the knowledge and interests of those participating.
There will be a one hour lunch break (provisionally 12:30-1:30pm) and tea/coffee breaks. There is a café/bar on site as well as an Indian Restaurant and other eating establishments nearby or participants can bring a packed lunch. Tea, coffee and cakes will be supplied.
Most materials are supplied but if participants want to use something specific then they may bring it along.
The workshop is funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Week 1 (15th February 2014) 11am-5pm
The concepts of the exhibition, and current understandings of TB and issues around infection will be introduced with a focus on the work of the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project. This will be followed by an exhibition tour with an opportunity for questions and discussions.
Participants will then engage in a making/discussion session using needle felt (no experience needed), dust and sterilised bacterial DNA (normally used for whole genome sequencing of bacteria) to investigate developments in our beliefs around the causes of disease. We will make our own “infective textiles” using a DIY growth media called “Park’s Kitchen Agar”, fabric squares and natural and clinical antibiotics. We will discuss the complex relationship of natural and synthetic dyes to antibiotics and the role of fashion in the history of disease. Participants will begin to develop an understanding of safe lab practice.
Week 2 (22nd February 2014) 11am-5pm
We will be joined by Dr Simon Park and Dr Melissa Grant who will discuss their own areas of expertise and work with participants to develop their own project ideas, which they can work on throughout the workshop. We have the potential to develop cutting edge new techniques for artistic ways of working with bacteria here.
Week 3 (1st March 2014) 11am-5pm
Participants continue to work on their own projects with support from the workshop leaders (Anna Dumitriu, Dr Simon Park and Dr Melissa Grant). Open discussion about artistic and scientific approaches in the creation and sharing of knowledge.
Week 4 (15th March 2014) 11am-5pm
Participants continue to work on their own projects with support from the workshop leaders (Anna Dumitriu, Dr Simon Park and Dr Melissa Grant. Open discussion about artistic and scientific approaches in the creation and sharing of knowledge.
Week 5 (22nd March 2014) 11am-5pm
Participants complete their own projects with Anna Dumitriuand take part in a show and tell session with opportunity for discussion and debate. We will be joined by Lynn Stevens who will discuss issues around public understanding of tuberculosis with a focus on the work of the charity Target TB who will join us for the session. We will look at their recent research into currently held beliefs about the causes of TB in Uganda and Timor Leste in response to questions by Anna Dumitriu. We will make our own scientific experiments based on these beliefs, such as the widely held but unfounded idea that TB is caused by the consumption of unripe mangoes. We hope that Dr John Paul from the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project will also be able to visit and participate in discussions.
Projects can then be displayed in the gallery lab space for viewing by attendees at the “Romantic Disease Symposium” on 24th March 2014, which workshop participants are also welcome to attend.
When & Where
Anna Dumitriu’s work blurs the boundaries between art and science with a strong interest in the ethical issues raised by emerging technologies. Her installations, interventions and performances use a range of digital, biological and traditional media including live bacteria, robotics, interactive media, and textiles. Her work has a strong international exhibition profile and is held in several major public collections, including the Science Museum in London. Dumitriu is known for her work as founder and director of “The Institute of Unnecessary Research”, a group of artists and scientists whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries and critiques contemporary research practice. She recently completed a Wellcome Trust commission entitled “The Hypersymbiont Salon", is collaborating as a Visiting Research Fellow: Artist in Residence with the Adaptive Systems Research Group at The University of Hertfordshire (focussing on social robotics) and (Leverhulme Trust 2011) Artist in Residence on the UK Clinical Research Consortium Project “Modernising Medical Microbiology” at The University of Oxford. Her major international project “Trust me I’m an artist, towards an ethics of art/science collaboration” (in collaboration with the Waag Society in Amsterdam and The University of Leiden) investigates the novel ethical problems that arise when artists create artwork in laboratory settings. She is was winner of the 2012 Society for Applied Microbiology Communication Award and recently awarded Wellcome Trust funding for her new project "The Romantic Disease: An Artistic Investigation of Tuberculosis".