Marta de Menezes: NATURE?
Bicyclus and Heliconius butterflies invited you to the opening of the Marta de Menezes Nature? exhibition that took place in KiBela gallery on Friday, the 3rd of March 2006, at 8pm. The exhibition was opened until the 21st of March 2006.
In NATURE? Marta has only modified the pattern of one wing of Bicyclus and Heliconius butterflies. As a consequence, all these butterflies have simultaneously one wing with the natural design and another one with her design. Through this asymmetry, she has tried to emphasise the similarities and differences between the unmanipulated and manipulated, between the natural and the novel natural.
»I have been trying to express concepts in the butterfly wings that deal with our perception of shapes. By adding, changing or deleting eyespots and colour patches it is possible for our imagination to identify shapes and rhythms familiar to our senses. Another approach includes highlighting particular aspects of the natural wing – for example, the removal of the outer rings of an eyespot to simply show the white centre of it. I do not have the intention of enhancing in any way nature’s design. Nor do I intend to make something already beautiful even more beautiful. I simply aim to explore the possibilities and constraints of the biological system, creating (within what is possible) different patterns that are not the result of an evolutionary process. It has also been my intention to create unique butterflies. The changes are not at the genetic level, and the germline is left untouched. As a consequence, the induced modifications are not transmitted to the offspring. Each modified butterfly is different from any other. The new patterns are something never seen in nature before, and quickly disappear from nature not to be seen again. This form of art has a life span – the life span of a butterfly. It is a form of art that literally lives and dies. It is simultaneously art and life. Art and Biology.« Marta de Menezes, www.martademenezes.com
Thanks to: This work was performed during a residency in Paul Brakefield’s laboratory at the University of Leiden, in The Netherlands. The work was exhibited for the first time in Ars Electronica 2000, Linz, Austria. To my knowledge it was the first time live animals (i.e. not bacteria or plants) modified for artistic purposes were exhibited in an art venue. Scientists znanstveniki A. Monteiro, M. Bax, K. Koops, R. Kooi and P. Brakefield were of a big help on this project.
Marta de Menezes is a Portuguese artist (b. Lisbon, 1975) with a degree in Fine Arts by the University in Lisbon, and a MSt in History of Art and Visual Culture by the University of Oxford. In recent years, she has been exploring the interaction between Art and Biology, working in research laboratories demonstrating that new biological technologies can be used as new art medium, and proving that laboratories can be art studios. Besides researching into new ways to create art, Marta de Menezes is also an accomplished artist using traditional media, with paintings frequently representing insights from scientific research.
She is currently Artist-in-Residence at the MRC - Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London.
We would especially like to thank Baumax store for the plants!
Marta de Menezes, NATURE - video (QuickTime)