Modernising Medical Microbiology ‘Artist in Residence’: Anna Dumitriu
Since 2010 internationally renowned artist Anna Dumitriu has been our Artist in Residence. As part of her residency with Modernising Medical Microbiology she shadows our researchers and develops artworks, exhibitions and events that explore the research we do and its impact on the treatment of infectious diseases and the care of patients.
Dumitriu’s art practice fuses craft, technology and bioscience to weave complex but engaging narratives around our relationship to infectious disease and its cultural and personal implications. She works hands-on with the tools and techniques of microbiology and synthetic biology to create intricate artworks that reveal strange histories and emerging futures. Her obsessions with the history and treatment of infectious diseases, medical ethics, antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, genomics, and synthetic biology speak urgently to the concerns of wide audiences and make for a visceral and emotionally affecting experience.
She recently told Microbiologist Magazine (June 2017: Vol. 18 No 2): “My obsession with the history and future of our attempts to overcome infection has led me on a strange and interesting journey through romantic diseases, extremophile bacteria, engineered life, whole genome sequencing, and CRISPR DNA editing. Storytelling is key to my work and the materials I choose must have a resonance to them, so that layers of meaning can be peeled away. I often work with antique objects that I alter, or materials sourced from or created in the lab. Every single element has its role. The perversity of working with traditional crafts such as carving, engraving or embroidery is mirrored in the perversity of my insistence in learning all the scientific techniques used in my work and performing them myself. I do my best to understand the intricacies of the the scientific methods I am using so I am able to better share the research I am responding to and the histories behind it, or to talk about the cultural or even societal implications of it.
Dumitriu’s initial residency was funded by a Leverhulme Artist in Residence award and since then been supported by grants and commissions from significant funding bodies including the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England. Her work has focussed on (and its drug resistant form MRSA) and antibiotic-resistant gut infections. She has collaborated with many researchers including Dr John Paul, Kevin Cole, Dr James Price, Dr Tim Walker, Professor Martin Llewelyn, Dr Nicola Fawcett, Dr Jane Freeman & Dr Caroline Chilton.
Artworks stemming from the residency have been showcased internationally at significant venues including The Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, The V & A Museum, the Picasso Museum Barcelona, Waag Society Amsterdam, The Wellcome Collection, Art Laboratory Berlin, the Barn Gallery Oxford, and Kapelica Gallery, Ljubljana. Her work with Modernising Medical Microbiology has been widely featured in the press and broadcast media including The Lancet, on BBC and in The Guardian.
For more information on Anna Dumitriu’s artworks and other publications about her work see http://www.normalflora.co.uk
There will be a major solo exhibition of artworks by Anna Dumitriu, including many of her collaborations with Modernising Medical Microbiology at Oxford Museum of the History of Science opening to the public on 28th September 2017 and running until 18th March 2018. The exhibition will then tour. Accompanying the exhibition will be a number of events including artist talks and workshops as well as presentations by Modernising Medical Microbiology researchers. See http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk