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Talk on transdisciplinarity: lecture by artist Koen Vanmechelen, MAY 11, 2022, PILAR, BXL (BE)

Prof Karine Van Doninck invites artist Koen Vanmechelen for a talk during Manned Flight - Rotifers in Action

What if the laboratory beckons to the studio, and what if science and art intersect? What happens when pencil and petri dish reach out, or when projector and pipette closely embrace each other?

Manned Flight - Rotifers in Action combines science and art in a seldom explored and unprecedented way. Years ago, the long-term research in the evolutionary biology laboratory of Professor Karine Van Doninck (ULB and UNamur) took an unusual turn. She and her scientists started working together with passionate artists from diverse backgrounds, active in various disciplines. The subject of this research and this exhibition is the rotifer. Though smaller than a millimeter, these multicellular animals represent an evolutionary scandal. The asexual females clone themselves without any intervention of males. In that respect, the title of this exhibition is certainly not without irony!

Rotifers have been evolving on Earth for more than sixty million years. They are particularly strong: although they live about thirty days on average, they can withstand a beating. Recently scientists were able to revive rotifers from thawed permafrost. They recover very quickly, even after exposure to high doses of radiation. These purebred superwomen represent a future model organism whose possibilities pose challenging questions for science. At the request of Professor Karine Van Doninck and curator Ive Stevenheydens, the artists participating in this exhibition worked with the characteristics of the rotifers. Although they are not seldom referred to literally in these conceptualized works which were created for this occasion, these creations play more often with the dizzying philosophical register which the characteristics of rotifers induce. These artists therefore investigate the peculiarities of the rotifers in a - literally - experimental way. At the same time, this exhibition illustrates the importance of imperfection for evolution’s sake, and holds up a poetic mirror to images, such as the age-old human desire for immortality. Manned Flight shows an oversized scientific set-up that transports the visitor straight into the laboratory. In this way we want to provide insight into the fascinating experiments and the findings that scientists conduct on this matter on a daily basis. Alongside the program there will be fascinating lectures and meetings, concerts and performances and of course a smashing party!

Participating Artists: Dara Birnbaum Ophélie Lhuire Gerlando Infuso David Bade Caroline Vincart Natasha Papadopoulou Ohme & Aiko Design SEADS Reymour Koen Vanmechelen Geburtshelfer Vica Pacheco Tujiko Nuriko DJ Klakke DJ Alfred Anders Concept and idea: Karine Van Doninck Curator: Ive Stevenheydens

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