PHILADELPHIA – (September 29, 2022) – In its final exhibit following a 45-year run, the University City Science Center’s Esther Klein Gallery will showcase the work of internationally renowned artist Dr. Heather Dewey-Hagborg in a solo exhibit, Closer Than Your Family. Opening on October 6th, the exhibit will feature recent works that examine how cutting-edge developments in biotechnology are raising fundamental questions about what it means to be human.
Featured work includes Watson’s Ghost interrogates the interpretation of genetic data, presenting hundreds of interpretations of a single individual's face based on their DNA. Lovesick presents a custom retrovirus designed to infect humans, irrevocably altering their genomes to make them more loving. The artificial virus was created in 2019 as part of Heather’s three-month BioArt Residency at the Science Center in collaboration with Integral Molecular. Hybrid: an Interspecies Opera transforms research around xenotransplantation – the genetic engineering of pigs to supply human organs–into a musical tribute to the creatures giving their lives for these scientific advances. Finally, Future pigs, plural, builds on the research from Hybrid to present a set of speculative portraits of pigs in the future, if human modification continues along the trajectory of today.
Together these works probe the ways human beings are multitudes, via the subjectivity of interpretation, their genetic mutability, and their increasingly chimeric proximity to non-human animals.
“This exhibition presents three perspectives on cutting-edge biotechnology. While the research represented here feels like the future it is really a portrait of a present not often seen, but increasingly shaping our everyday lives," says Dewey-Hagborg.
Dr. Heather Dewey-Hagborg is an artist and biohacker who is interested in art as research and technological critique. Her controversial biopolitical art practice includes the project Stranger Visions in which she created portrait sculptures from analyses of genetic material (hair, cigarette butts, chewed up gum) collected in public places.
Heather has shown work internationally at events and venues including the World Economic Forum, the Daejeon Biennale, the Guangzhou Triennial, and the Shenzhen Urbanism and Architecture Biennale, Transmediale, the Walker Center for Contemporary Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and PS1 MOMA. Her work is held in public collections of the Centre Pompidou, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Wellcome Collection, the Exploratorium, and the New York Historical Society, among others, and has been widely discussed in the media, from the New York Times and the BBC to Art Forum and Wired.
Esther Klein Gallery
October 6 - Dec 16, 2022
Thursday October 6th
P.S. The Esther Klein Gallery has served University City, and the Greater Philadelphia community, for 45 years. Featuring the work of legendary artists, scientists, and futurists like Buckminster Fuller, and hundreds of artists from around the world, the modest space taught lessons about the way science impacts our lives. In recent years, the gallery helped us visualize and understand the coronavirus pandemic's toll on society and did not shy away from issues of race and inequity.
Said Science Center President & CEO Tiffany Wilson, "The Esther Klein Gallery has been witness to history, even creating some of its own with vibrant and thought-provoking displays that showcased the ubiquitous nature of science and progress. This is certainly not a sunset, but an evolution, as we carry the torch to the Science Center's 'home base' -- 3675 Market -- where new public installations will be debuting in 2024."
About the Science Center
The University City Science Center is Philadelphia’s premier catalyst of entrepreneurial activity, healthcare innovation, and economic growth. Established in 1963, the nonprofit has been recognized by The Brookings Institution as a best-in-class investor, mentor, and economic development partner for young technology companies. Working alongside industry partners and leading research and academic institutions across the globe, the Science Center has supported over 1,000 early-stage companies. Today, the organization advances healthcare innovation from idea to the marketplace through startup support services and building inclusive STEM pathways for Philadelphia youth and adults. For more information visit sciencecenter.org or follow us at @UCScienceCenter.