Bio art and Science

Art and science team up to confront cancer - lecture programme at SPUI25 in Amsterdam.

What do the emerging field of bio art and science have in common? Artist Charlotte Jarvis, professor of Molecular Genetics Hans Clevers (Hubrecht Institute) and writer Bas Heijne discuss societal, scientific and ethical questions regarding a challenging and innovative bio art project, designed to raise awareness and understanding of colon cancer. Moderator: Tim Vermeulen.

To join this programme at SPUI25 on 12 february 2015, register here.

Bio art – art that uses living material and scientific processes – offers new perspectives on science. The work of artist Charlotte Jarvis is a profound example of this. In her remarkable bio art project Et in Arcadia Ego, some of Jarvis’s colon tissue will be grown in vitro (outside the body) and then submitted to a series of mutations that will make it cancerous: she is attempting to grow her own tumour outside her body. Her project aims to confront cancer, question its nature and to face mortality. Eventually, the tissue will be exhibited and used to spark discussion about this kind of cancer and how it occurs in the body.

But that is not the only reason why this project is remarkable. The sample will also be used in professor Hans Clevers’ scientific research. He uses stem cells to grow samples of colon tissue in vitro. To this date all of the samples he has had access to are from cancer patients. This project would provide him with the first opportunity to test his method on tissue from a healthy patient sample. How does Et in Arcadia Ego help Hans Clevers’ research on colon cancer? Should art and science address societal challenges? Which ethical questions are raised, and how should they be answered? Charlotte Jarvis, Hans Clevers and Bas Heijne discuss these and other issues.

In 2012, Charlotte Jarvis was one of the winners of the Designers & Artists for Genomics Award (now called Bio Art & Design Award) with her project Ergo Sum. Preparations for Et in Arcadia Ego are now presented in the exposition Matter of life, Growing new bio art and design: www.mu.nl.


SPUI25, Spui 25-27, Amsterdam