Open call for Art's Work in the Age of Biotechnology: Shaping Our Genetic Futures at NCSU

Dates or Deadline: 
8 August 2018 to 15 October 2018
Organized by: 
Hannah Rogers
North Carolina
United States

Deadline for submission: October 1, 2018 11:59pm EST

Shortlist announced: November 15, 2018

Date of notification: January 15, 2019

This call is open to artists, scientists, designers, and makers at all career stages. Emerging artists, creators who are traditionally underrepresented in the arts and sciences, and artists working outside the U.S. are especially encouraged to apply.

Art’s Work in the Age of Biotechnology: Shaping our Genetic Futures poses the question: How do artists and designers contribute materially, rhetorically, and conceptually to modern biotechnology?

Human engagement with biotechnology through art and culture has a long history: from Popol Vuh creation stories and Mayan representations of agriculture to contemporary artists’ ethical takes on the genomic age. Art’s Work/Genetic Futures extends this history through works that prompt new ways of thinking while emphasizing the historical context of biotechnological innovation, medical practice, and genomic science. By bringing art and modern biotechnology together, we aim to reach toward new understandings about the human condition, our bodies, the environment, and the other species that share the planet.

We are looking for contemporary work and project proposals that will engage viewers in examining how genomic sciences could shape the future of our society. Projects that question and challenge current biotechnology tropes, as well as projects that embrace the transformative potential of biotechnology and biomedicine, are welcome.

We are soliciting a broad range of work that:

  • engages viewers in a complex understanding of biotechnology, genomics, and society, and encourages the exchange of nuanced ideas on these topics
  • offers a multifaceted visitor experience which challenges and complicates visitors’ views on genomics
  • allows for interpretive flexibility
  • offers critique that allows for interpretive flexibility
  • comments on the social implications of genomic technologies
  • influences the shaping of designs of future genomic technologies
  • imagines the implications of modern biotechnology practices
  • reflects on historical and contemporary methods of genetically modifying organisms, and
  • implicates viewers in the ethics and social practices of genomics

We welcome modes of art-making including but not limited to:

  • artistic bench science explorations
  • work with living material (must indicate in proposal)
  • public art, citizen science, tactical media
  • film, video, animation, video games, photography
  • site-specific installation
  • performance
  • sound art
  • traditional fine arts practices, e.g. painting, sculpture, conceptual art
  • new media, including virtual and augmented reality, data visualization, maps

Art’s Work/Genetic Futures began as a collaboration between Fred Gould, an evolutionary biologist and co-founder of NC State’s Genetic Engineering and Society Center (GES), and Molly Renda, a designer with NCSU Libraries’ Exhibit Program. Gould wanted to create an art exhibit that addressed the same ethical and practical questions being discussed among GES’s interdisciplinary scholars—including ecologists, social scientists, historians, philosophers, and anthropologists. The Libraries was a natural fit with its record of engaging exhibits, its understanding of the research life cycle, and its access to subject specialists and new technologies. Gould and Renda proposed the concept of a multi-site exhibit to Roger Manley, director of NC State’s Gregg Museum of Art & Design in the months leading up to the opening of their new building. We soon found our curator, Science, Technology, and Society scholar Hannah Star Rogers, whose specialization in the history of art and science was a fortuitous match. Our core planning team also includes GES senior research scholar Todd Kuiken, and Elizabeth Pitts, assistant professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, who formerly served as a postdoctoral researcher at GES.

About the curator: Hannah Star Rogers is a curator, scholar, and poet. She received her MFA in poetry from Columbia University and Ph.D. at Cornell University on the intersection of art and science. She curated Making Science Visible: The Photography of Berenice Abbott, which received an exhibits prize from the British Society for the History of Science and resulted in an invited lecture at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. She is past Director of Research and Collaboration for Emerge: Artists and Scientists Redesign the Future 2016 and served as Guest Bioart Curator for 2017.

Spaces & Technology: The multi-site exhibition will be held simultaneously in NC State University’s Gregg Museum of Art & Design and in the physical and digital display spaces of NCSU Libraries D. H. Hill Exhibit Gallery and the James B. Hunt Jr. Library. Outdoor and/or greenhouse spaces are also available.

Publication: A full-color catalog with essays by the curator and other contributors is planned.

Honoraria: New work is encouraged, but ongoing, relevant projects will be given equal consideration. Art’sWork/Genetic Futures will offer an honorarium of $2,500 to support the artist’s work, shipping to Raleigh, NC, travel, and participation in either a symposium or proposed workshop. Lodging and meals will be provided for visiting artists, as well as return shipment of the borrowed work. Artists will be asked to prepare a short statement about the work. Participating artists will receive three copies of the catalog.


Topic Area: biology, genetics, bioart, biotechnology, STS, art and science, ASTS