UJ launches Creative Microbiology Research Colab with first African Bioart exhibition

“An extraordinary convergence of science, art, and imagination.”

This is how the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Letlhokwa Mpedi described the Creative Microbiology Research Colab (CMRC) at the much anticipated exhibition launch held on Thursday, 20 July 2023.

The CMRC is an inter-faculty collaboration dedicated to producing creative work located at the interface between microbiology, visual representation, and creative practice.

Biotechnological art (or bioart) involves artmaking practices that deal with the application of biotechnologies in which ‘life’ – meaning living and non/living matter – is used as raw material and subject for artistic production, using scientific practices and protocols.

Exploring the intersection of Art and Science

The CMRC biolaboratory, located in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) FABLAB is a fully equipped microbiology lab, which offers creative practitioners access to the kinds of specialised scientific equipment and expertise required to engage with ‘wet biology practices’.

Founded by Prof Leora Farber, Director of the Visual Identities in Art and Design (VIAD) Research Centre, FADA, and Prof Tobias Barnard, Director of the Water and Health Research Centre (WHRC), Faculty of Health Sciences, the CMRC is based on the conviction that bioart holds enormous potential to generate new insights, perspectives, scholarly and indigenous knowledges that arise from, and pertain to, an African context.

The launch, which took place at the FADA Gallery, presented the first exhibition of bioart to be held in South Africa and on the African continent.

Prof. Letlhokwa Mpedi – Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Prof Mpedi added that the exhibition spurred people to embrace a journey of exploration and witness how interdisciplinary approaches blur the lines between traditional disciplines and transcend boundaries.

“The CMRC presents us with the opportunity to explore this intersection, interrogate innovative uses of biomaterials and engage with new and exciting forms of collaboration.”

Innovative Bioart from CMRC members

The exhibition, scheduled from 21st July to 19th August 2023, will showcase bioart created by various members of the CMRC, including VIAD and WHRC Directors Prof Farber and Prof Barnard, bioart laboratory manager Xylan de Jager, VIAD Artist-in-Residence Brenton Maart, as well as VIAD Research Associates Nelisiwe Xaba, Nadine Botha, Miliswa Ndziba, Nathaniel Stern, and Nolan Oswald Dennis.

These creative practitioners explore innovative ways of working with existing biomaterials and producing new ones; introduce speculative methods of working with living and non/living matter that allow for risk and experimentation; and use interdisciplinary approaches to arrive at research findings that are rooted in practical processes via the application of practice-led methodologies.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a digital catalogue and a physical, online and hybrid public programme, featuring the artists and experts across a range of fields in the Humanities, Social and Health Sciences, as well as those working in Visual Art and Design disciplines.

For more information, please visit www.viad.co.za.

Share this

Latest News

All News