Open Wetlab

Trust me, I’m an artist: Displaying Resistance

5-9-17 17:00 - 5-9-17 18:00
Fabrica Gallery, 40 Duke Street, Brighton, UK, BN1 4AG

As part of the British Science Festival, at Fabrica Gallery Brighton we are pleased to announce "Trust me, I’m an artist: Displaying Resistance".

"Trust Me, I'm an Artist” is an internationally renowned series of events debating the ethical issues that arise when art meets science. Can and should an artist exhibit fragments of wild DNA that have the potential to cause antibiotic resistance in infectious diseases in order to raise awareness of this sublime existential risk?

Anna Dumitriu wants to exhibit sculptures containing wild antibiotic resistance plasmids, legally it's no problem as they are only DNA and as such can be displayed, but it is not clear if there is a risk that bacteria in the environment could take up these resistance genes and become superbugs. Since the work was first proposed by the artist the resistance plasmids she wants to use have appeared in the UK population so are no longer something we can escape. Without a bacterial hosts plasmids are hard to put in to bacteria outside the lab so transfer into a suitable bacterium (if present) would be extremely rare if at all. In fact science doesn't yet seem to know the answer. In this event we will discuss the risks how Dumitriu can make her sculptures both safe and sublime, and you can join the debate.

"Trust me, I'm an Artist" investigates the new ethical issues arising from art and science collaboration and considers the roles and responsibilities of the artists, scientists and institutions involved. At each event (before a live audience) an artist proposes an artwork they want to make to a specially formed ethics committee (following the rules and procedures typical for the host country), the ethics committee then debates the proposal and comes to a decision, the artist is then informed of the ethics committee’s decision and, alongside the audience, everyone can enter into a discussion about the result. The project aims to reveal the mechanisms that drive this usually hidden ethics process, enabling the wider public to understand the driving forces behind ethical decisions and the role of artists working in scientific settings more deeply.


  • Proposers: Anna Dumitriu (artist) and Dr Leena Hassan (BSMS)
  • Ethics Committee Chair: Professor Bobbie Farsides (BSMS)
  • Ethics Committee: Professor Melanie Newport (BSMS), Professor Gail Davey (BSMS), Tim Henbrey (Science Gallery London)

This event is part of the internationally renowned Trust me, I’m an artist series and is being organised in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust, Brighton and Sussex Centre for Global Health Research at Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

The event is part of the international project ‘Trust Me, I’m an Artist: Developing ethical frameworks for artists, cultural institutions and audiences engaged in the challenges of creating and experiencing new art forms in biotechnology and biomedicine in Europe’. The project is led by artist Anna Dumitriu in collaboration with ethicist Professor Bobbie Farsides and coordinated by Waag (NL) in collaboration with Brighton and Sussex Medical School (UK), The Arts Catalyst (UK), Kapelica Gallery / Kersnikova (SI), Medical Museion (DK), and Leonardo Olats (FR).

The work here builds on Anna Dumitriu's ongoing collaborations with Modernising Medical Microbiology and Dr Nicola Fawcett as well as her work with MRG-Grammar and her project "Make Do and Mend: Controlled Commodities" which will be on show at Ars Electronica in Linz following this event.