Artist Talk: Sonja Bäumel (Amsterdam)

fifty percen thumanThe Austrian artist Sonja Bäumel (Gerrit Rietveld Academy Amsterdam) will give an artist talk about her work and her current project FIFTY PERCENT HUMAN on Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 4:15–6 pm at Vordere Zollamtstraße 3, Lecture Hall 14 (3rd floor).

This artistic research project focuses on current bio-scientific breakthroughs: the Human Microbiome, the related shift from Genomics to Metagenomics and the subsequent evolving perception of what our body is made of and was developed in collaboration with Birgit Nemec, Cocky Eek and Hauke Smidt. If 50 percent of cells that constitute our body are not human but microbial, how do we have to re-imagine the human and where could this new knowledge lead?

The collective became interested in how a biological concept developed by scientists, health politicians, policy makers and different public, could be critically challenged using close dialogue between art, design and historical epistemology, and how artists could translate abstract research into a more tangible and immediate experience. The idea behind this unconventional confrontation is that all these areas – art/design, philosophy and laboratory science – question and shape the relational and context-dependent aspects of human existence.

FIFTY PERCENT HUMAN intends to develop engaging critical languages, which carefully balance imagination and the extraordinary with factual rational knowledge. This, by focusing on human-microbe communication, human-microbe interaction and the great diversity of the human body’s ecosystem, mainly by using artistic, fictional and philosophical research tools. We will re-imagine and refashion our skin as a whole environment through wondrous artefacts which themselves may also demonstrate the possible impact of artistic experimentation on the democratization of complex scientific research. The different outcomes including interdisciplinary platform meetings, lab visits and an exhibition may very well encourage greater diversity in the methods used to imagine alternative futures (

The Austrian artist Sonja Bäumel (Gerrit Rietveld Academy Amsterdam) works across various disciplines including art, design, fashion and biological practice. Sonja studied Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Vienna, and holds a Bachelor in Arts from the University of Arts of Linz, as well as a Master from the Design Academy Eindhoven. She is lecturing and giving workshops in various international Institutions and Universities. Her work has been exhibited internationally in e.g. Ars Electronica Center (AT), Anthology Film Archives New York (USA), MAK Museum of Applied Arts (AT), Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei (TW), Gewerbemuseum (CHE), Waag Society (NL). She is co-founder of the Dunbar’s Number collective (2011), member of Pavillion35 (2012) collective based in Vienna, and of the WNDRLUST (2013) collective based in Amsterdam. Sonja currently teaches at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.

The Guest Lecture Series of Professor Ingeborg Reichle’s seminar “Bioart – Biodesign – DIY: Reframing Life in Current Artistic Practices and Design Approaches” is an informative and stimulating opportunity to hear from distinguished artists about what’s going on in the emerging fields of bioart and biodesign and will help our students build their network of contacts. Our guest lectures are open to all.

Date and time: Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 4:15–6 pm.
Venue: Vordere Zollamtstraße 3, Lecture Hall 14 (3rd floor).
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