MoMA exhibit dies five weeks into show

NEW YORK. One of the central works in the exhibition “Design and the Elastic Mind” at the Museum of Modern Art, Victimless Leather, a small jacket made up of embryonic stem cells taken from mice, has died. The artists, Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, say the work (below) which was fed nutrients by tube, expanded too quickly and clogged its own incubation system just five weeks after the show opened.

Catts and Zurr run a laboratory at the University of Western Australia in Perth; this combines artistic practice with scientific research. The jacket is one of several works created as part of their Tissue Culture & Art Project. Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Paola Antonelli, head of MoMA’s architecture and design department and curator of the show, says she had to make the decision to turn off the life-support system for the work, basically “killing” it. Ms Antonelli says the jacket “started growing, growing, growing until it became too big. And [the artists] were back in Australia, so I had to make the decision to kill it. And you know what? I felt I could not make that decision. I’ve always been pro-choice and all of a sudden I’m here not sleeping at night about killing a coat...That thing was never alive before it was grown.”

Catts says his intention is “to raise questions about our exploitation of other living beings”. Helen Stoilas

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