To coexist recreates a biological ecosystem in the context of a museum collection. It displays life itself, in opposition to representations of what is alive. It confronts the detail and the particular – either the cell, the organ, or the live being – with the global – the ecosystem. To coexist provides an opportunity for a real interaction between the viewer and the artwork, which due to its nature is not only dynamic but also unpredictable. Will museums and deposits of this new century provide conditions for artworks literally alive?
A collection, a deposit, a museum: traditionally they comprise sets of objects, inanimate, and catalogued, that can be displayed to the public, or orderly stored away in a dark place. The live component of collections, deposits or museums are the human beings interacting with the objects: cleaning, selecting, restoring, or simply contemplating them. Even the zoological and botanical collections consist of representations of what is alive, or the preservation of what have lived.
In recent years, advances in molecular biology allowed the modification, patenting and even the artistic use of genes, cell lines or even live organisms. Several museums and galleries worldwide have been exhibiting biological artworks, although some of them – more traditional – opt to present documentary registers of live works, in the tradition of the zoological and botanical collections. This coexistence of a live artwork with a museum collection prompts a reflection on the evolution of the art museum concept at a historical moment marked by a revolution in both information technologies and biotechnology.
In “Deposito”, exhibition curated by Paulo Cunha e Silva, 2007.
Developed with help from the Botanical Garden of the Univeristy of Porto.
Tags: knowledge, live organisms, museology.