Two thematically related exhibitions opened at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, on Monday, October 21st. Between them, they touch on subjects of concern to many, and which can be viewed as controversial. With CRISP, a single large 3D piece, Kaiju Kohime delves into the subject of CRISPR gene editing; in A Beautiful Collapse, Nevereux questions the decline of societal values.
Genetic manipulation in human beings has the potential foe enormous good: it could help cure / prevent cancers and viral infections, for example, while its use in pregnancy could prevent in vitro genetic depletion than can cause the creation / transfer of genetic illnesses in unborn babies.
However, it also potentially has a much darker side as well – which is why the November 2018 report that Chinese scientist, He Jiankuihad helped to make the world’s first genome-edited girls was greeted with no small degree of outrage among the global science community. The twins, called Lulu and Nana, reportedly had their genes modified before birth to make them immune to infection by HIV, through the removal of the CCR5 gene – a process that may also have boosted the twin’s intelligence and cognitive abilities and made them better able to recover from strokes.
Through his piece, Kaiju points a spotlight at the birth of these twins and the reactions He’s work has caused. At a time when many in genetic science had agreed to limit human gene manipulation to material extracted from embryos until such time as the ethics of such manipulation could be fully understood and safeguards enacted to prevent the misuse of such a capability (if at all possible), He is seen by some as irresponsibility throwing wide the doors of the science without regard for potential consequence.
Neveraux, meanwhile uses the format of the Polaroid snapshot to explore the decline of societal values, which appears to be occurring at an ever-increasing pace. The framing is the idea that these images are all that remain as a means of defining our society following our global demise – although in truth, these are intended to challenge us as their audience.
These are sharply conscience-pricking images, each one focusing on an aspect of our modern lives, framed within a picture and caption, covering as they do everything from the superficiality of our so-called “on-line lives” through to the collapse of established national norms (This is America) and the declining longevity / honesty found within our physical world relationships (Partnershit). Elsewhere, the images carry something of a double edge to them. Take Art Doesn’t Sell, for example. On the one side, it carries with it the message that unless it is intentionally commercial in nature, it is not worth consideration. On the other, it perhaps carries a message within it concerning our quickness to turn to violence to achieve an end – or fame through notoriety rather than creative talent. Similarly, Stay Hidden both (again) critiques the shallowness of our need to share everything on-line and offers a reminder that there is sanctity (and safety) to be found in also keeping things to ourselves.
One of the functions of art is to provoke; to give us pause for thought and consideration. By challenging perceptions, it offers us an opportunity to re-evaluate our ideas and how we might view the world. Both CRISP and A Beautiful Collapse do just this, and I recommend both for your viewing.