The University of Waterloo Art Gallery (UWAG) describes the exhibition as “a feminist science-fiction where biotechnology manifests interspecies collaboration, reproduction, theatre and storytelling as a means to reimagine our shared biotech future.”
The exhibition consisted of a series of vignettes that take scientific, laboratory-style objects—Petri dishes, for example—and presented them in a very warm, inviting, flamboyant, feminine way. An idea that arguably arose to provide a contrasting perspective to those who perceive laboratory settings to be cold, masculine and sterile.
Willet was able to make the environment feel lively and inviting through her art pieces. Baroque Biology prompts the audience to rethink their views on science and question the qualities that are actually related to and necessary for science/biology.
The artworks varied in medium from performative sculpture to digital images, prints, and living cultures. Each vignette focuses on a life form, whether that be a mammal, plant, insect, or microbe. Each organism then communicates about how their species survive, and which biological processes are involved.
Moreover, not only does Willet reimagine these items in an atypical way, but also seamlessly incorporates them into different real-life backgrounds. By viewing the biotechnology tools integrated into a real-world setting and having agency in the scene, the idea that research is vital in the ecology of our planet and our daily lives is further reinforced.
The balance between looking like biology vs. looking like an art piece was done ingeniously and drives the viewer to examine the piece with more considerable attention to detail.
Art is always pushing boundaries and trying new techniques and concepts; that is how the best, most famous artwork was made. Art that gets one thinking even after leaving the gallery is the best kind of art because it stays with one for a long while.
Together with UWAG, Baroque Biology by Jennifer Willet is presented in collaboration with Agents for Change | Facing the Anthropocene, an exhibition curated by Nina Czegledy and Jane Tingley on display at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener from January 23-September 7, 2020. themuseum.ca