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Rebels, Radicals and Pathfinders

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White Wallaby BioMess 2018 (detail)


Curator Robert Cook

  WA Now – Biomess – The Tissue Culture & Art Project (Oron Catts / Ionat Zurr)

  8 September – 3 December 2018 | FREE






AGWA celebrates free-thinkers, boundary-pushers and ground-breakers in the second half of 2018 through three contrasting exhibitions - Rebels, Radicals and Pathfinders


Based at the University of Western Australia, SymbioticA hosted the research of The Tissue Culture and Art Project (Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr). The artists have been exploring the intersections of science and art since 1996.

Together, and with their expanded team of artists and scientists, they explore the creative and ethical implications of developments in the biological sciences. They investigate about what science is doing, what it is capable of, and how our conceptions of life might be altered in the process and how futures might be shaped accordingly. In doing so, they also open up important questions about how we categorise life forms that ask us to rethink what it is to be human.

This exhibition, Biomess, is timed to coincide with the celebration of the 200th year since the publication of Mary Shelley’s gothic horror novel Frankenstein. In response, it looks at existing “Frankensteins” of the natural world, beings that confound our usual ways of thinking about animal life with a creative presentation of specimens from the Western Australian Museum and examples of real life animal “oddities”. It will also include new organisms grown by the artists themselves at their labs in the University of Western Australia that open up new possibilities for temporary biological structures. Presented in the mode of a high-end retail fit-out, it will also look at the commodification of the natural world.

In their own words: “As life becomes a raw material for human desires, constructed life escapes science labs to become a medium for artistic and consumer products."

Biomess proves that there is nothing natural in nature.

Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr Crossing Kingdoms Biomess 2018 (detail)  oron Catts & Ionat Zurr Brash Tailed Phascogale Biomess 2018 detail



Award winning artists, researchers and curators, Catts and Zurr formed the internationally renowned Tissue Culture & Art Project in 1996. Catts is the Co-Founder and Director of SymbioticA: the Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, School of Human Sciences at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and was a Professor of Contestable Design at the Royal College for the Arts UK. Dr Ionat Zurr is a researcher and lecturer at the School of Design UWA and SymbioticA’s academic co-ordinator. Both are Visiting Professor at Biofilia – Based for Biological Arts, Aalto University Finland (2015-2020). They have been visiting scholars at The Centre of Arts and Art History at Stanford University (2007) and Research Fellows at The Tissue Engineering & Organ Fabrication Laboratory, Harvard Medical School (2000-2001).

Catts & Zurr’s interest is Life, more specifically the shifting relations and perceptions of life in the light of new knowledge and its applications. Often working in collaboration with other artists and scientists, they have developed a body of work that speaks volumes about the need for new cultural articulations of evolving concepts of life.

They are considered pioneers in the field of Biological Arts; they publish widely and exhibit internationally. Their work was exhibited and collected by museums such as MoMA NY, Mori art Museum, NGV, GoMA, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, Ars Electronica, National Art Museum of China and more. Their research was covered by The NY Times, Washington Post, Wired, New Scientist, Time, Newsweek and other TV, radio, print and online media.

Catts & Zurr ideas and projects reach beyond the confines of art; their work is often cited as inspiration to diverse areas such as new materials, textiles, design, architecture, ethics, fiction, and food.






Once a month for 3 months

$18 | $15 Members (Members Season Pass $30)
Delve into Australia’s long love of the anti-authoritarian, explorer psyche with this 3-part lecture series.

Rebels | Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly series

10.30-11.30am, Saturday 11 August

Radicals | Biomess
10.30-11.30am, Saturday 15 September

SymbioticA artist/researchers Ionat Zurr & Oron Catts in conversation with AGWA Curator of Contemporary Design and International Art Robert Cook discuss the intersections of science and art in reflection of their exhibition Biomess which looks at the oddities of the natural world that confront and confound our usual ways of thinking.

Pathfinders | spaced 3: north by southeast
10.30-11.30am, Saturday 20 October

11am, Saturday 8 September | FREE
Meet in the gallery space to hear from Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, the creators behind the Biomess exhibition.


There is nothing like a personal interaction to spark the imagination.

Join a tour of the acclaimed Sidney Nolan Ned Kelly series to find out about the rebel in our Rebels, Radicals and Pathfinders series of exhibitions.

Ned Kelly Guided Tours
11am, Wednesdays
1pm, Fridays & Saturdays



Rebels, Radicals and Pathfinders

10.30am-12pm, Wednesday 19 September
$15 (ticket includes tour and morning tea)
Tickets available from 24 August

For many artists the purpose of their art is not to represent reality but to make us look at and think about the world we live in differently. This tour will help you to look closely at the work of artists who have intentionally pushed the accepted boundaries of art.




100 Keyboards

Lead Artist Asuna

$30+bf | 90 minute performance

6.45pm, Tuesday 23 October

includes acess to the Beyond Bling and Biomess exhibitions after hours in an atmospheric setting

Watch Asuna HERE

Sold out in Sydney and Melbourne – one performance only in Perth!

Created by pioneering Japanese sound artist Asuna, 100 Keyboards is a captivating site-specific listening experience, a strange but beautiful accompaniment to the Beyond Bling exhibition. For a truly one-of-a-kind performance and site-specific listening experience in the AGWA concourse.

One hundred routine plastic keyboards arranged like a giant jewelry piece play the same key, generating an undulating sonic harmony both mesmerizing and mysterious. Sound waves on the same frequency multiply and bounce off in myriad directions, creating a complex sonic field of interference and reverberation that swells and changes over time.

Please note this is an unreserved standing-room only event.

For accessibility queries please see the AGWA website.

Presented by AGWA Culture Juice, The SUBSTATION, Performance Space, Asialink, hellosQuare & SymbioticA

(in association with Tura New Music) as part of Unhallowed Arts.


Biomess is a collaborative project between SymbioticA @ UWA, Western Australian Museum and the

Art Gallery of WA.


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Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr
Sponge – Biomess 2018 (detail)
The Tissue Culture & Art Project
Collection, Western Australian Museum

Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr
Crossing Kingdoms – Biomess 2018 (detail)
The Tissue Culture & Art Project
Collection, Western Australian Museum
Photographer – Cat Thomson

Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr
Brush Tailed Phascogale – Biomess 2018 (detail)
The Tissue Culture & Art Project
Collection, Western Australian Museum






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