Dana-Fiona Armour's "A Tale of Symbiogenesis" now on view in Stockholm

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Dana-Fiona Armour's "A Tale of Symbiogenesis" now on view in Stockholm
Installation images from the exhibition "A Tale of Symbiogenesis". Courtesy the artist and Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Paris.

STOCKHOLM.- Andréhn-Schiptjenko opened this past January 12th "A Tale of Symbiogenesis", Dana-Fiona Armour’s second solo exhibition at their gallery and her very first in Stockholm. Symbiogenesis is the extremely rare, but permanent, merger of two organisms from phylogenetically distant lineages into one radically more complex organism: as stated - Thomas Cavalier-Smith, Symbiogenesis: Mechanisms, Evolutionary Consequences, and Systematic Implications, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, 2013.

Is there still value in Darwin’s theory, stating that competition is the most certain way to survive, in the age of the Anthropocene? Or is cooperation between different species, potentially leading to hybridization and symbiogenesis, a shortcut to increase survival? Dana-Fiona Armour’s exhibition at Andréhn-Schiptjenko investigates these questions and aims to create an inter-species dialogue between humans and vegetal matter.

The artist defines herself as an artist/researcher and has collaborated with the Biotechnology company Cellectis, the Biotechnology Institute of Aix Marseille, the sound engineer Thibaut Javoy, The University of Tel Aviv as well as the Paris Descartes University Medical Imaging Laboratory for her current body of work; turning the exhibition into a hybrid of fine art and an experimental research laboratory, in effect dissolving the borders between science and art.

Invited as the first artist in residence at Cellectis, a genome engineering company specialized in the development of immunotherapies, Dana-Fiona Armour developed the Project MC1R. This project is a mix of visual art and biotech whereby she created a transgenic plant carrying the human MC1R gene. She inoculated the most widely used experimental host in plant virology: Nicotiana Benthamiana, with a synthesized gene responsible for skin colour and tanning, and then used VR technology to access the roots of these plants. The first phase of the Project MC1R was exhibited at the Collection Lambert in Avignon, France in 2022 and her most recent body of works is a continuation of this research, shown for the first time at Andréhn-Schiptjenko.

Dana-Fiona Armour’s cast glass works, titled Nervures Secondaires, appear as fossils winding in ornamental shapes and evoke an entirely new symbiotic organism. These works merge different types of glass - crystal, opaline and colored glass to form a hybridized composite entity which actually contains similar compounds as human and animal bones do. Caused by the oxidation process of the manganese in the glass, the various chemical elements reacting together result in the bone-like colour and texture of these works, their distinct shapes inspired by extracts of the complex vein system of the aforementioned Nicotiana Benthamiana leaf.

A Tale of Symbiogenesis also presents photographic works by Dana-Fiona Armour. These works depict the process of the genetic transformation of the plant, while the sound heard in the exhibition is the airborne ultrasound (edited to audible range) emitted by plants suffering from different types of stress, such as dehydration or the cutting of their leaves.

The video in the exhibition shows the “bone structure” or veins of the Nicotiana Benthamiana leaf and becomes an observational journey delving deep into the plant’s anatomy and revealing a previously unknown, profound world.

In her specific combination of art and biotech, Dana-Fiona Armour has assigned a deeply investigative and existential meaning to her work. She functions as a translator between different species in an attempt to raise awareness of our condition and the need to start a dialogue between human and non-human species, otherwise lacking a common language.

Dana-Fiona Armour, born 1988 in Willich, Germany studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, from which she graduated in 2019. Armour is currently a resident at Collectif Poush, Clichy Paris. Her previous exhibitions include Collection Lambert, Avignon (2022); Radicants, Palazzo Bolani, Venice (2022); Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Paris (2021); Poush Manifesto, Clichy (2020); DNSAP Beaux-arts de Paris (2018). She has also participated in several group exhibitions throughout Europe.

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