The next edition of Trust Me I'm an Artist will feature Heirloom, a project by Gina Czarnecki at Medical Museion in Copenhagen (Denmark).
In "Heirloom", Gina Czarnecki grows skin portraits of her daughters from their own cells onto glass casts. The growing portraits are bathed in a liquid that feeds them and prevents infection. When the growing cells reach the thickness of tissue paper they are removed, preserved, and displayed.
"Heirloom" subverts the notion of the portrait, representing a person not in paint or oils, but with their own biological material. As the cells grow, are removed, and grow again, does the link between portrait and sitter lie in the physical resemblance or the cellular material?
The starting point of "Heirloom" was the idea of personalized medicine and having your teenage face back in the future. The artwork was realized in collaboration with professor of Clinical Sciences John Hunt; using Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine this could lead to new possibilities for facial reconstruction and cosmetic modification. Gina Czarnecki and John with professor Caroline Wilkinson have also become interested in the possibilities of saving information about the 3D structure of the face along with youthful skin cells in biobanks – could everyone have their own facial heirloom? In other words, using art with science, society is dared to think differently about what might be possible.
Placing "Heirloom" alongside Medical Museion’s exhibition "The Body Collected" invites us to compare how scientists and artists use bodily materials to produce new insights.
The project is supported by: Arts Council England, The creative Europe Programme of the European Union, The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research and Arbejdsmarkedets Feriefond.