AKI BIO MATTERs is an artistic research program that focuses on working with new biomaterials where art and design meet life science, philosophy, politics, ecology, bioethics, and DIY biology. 

Can we imagine and pursue other forms of living, different practices, habits, desires that rather than allowing us to live as we do will change us instead?  

This artistic research programme focuses on finding new biomaterials and developing new theoretical and practical understandings of how to live in the precarity of the future that has always been now. By engaging artists and designers with DIY biology, biohacking, life science and speculative ways and methods of working with living bodies, the programme focuses on developing ecologically and critically engaged art and design practice.   

Inventing differences care-fully. Within BIO MATTERs what matters are difficult questions and experimentations but not in order to achieve more control, but rather to allow speculation and attentiveness to bodies’ variety, change and mutations to be present in creative practice. With a philosophically engaged hands-on approach, questions are raised such as whether we can imagine and pursue life forms, practices, habits and desires that will change – rather than facilitate – our lives? How can we change the anthropocentric gaze? How to think about what is defined as living and natural? What are the margins where we can care-fully create with life and what are the implications of life manipulations? How to practise living and dying bodies in art and design? How to live with contamination and its risks?  

Symbiosis of theory and practice. During lecture discussions, readings and workshops the programme goes into problems, methods and ideas as they arise within the life sciences, philosophy, ethics and ecology. The goal of BIO MATTERs is to bring new methodologies and ways of thinking into the artistic and design realm where difficult yet urgent ecological and aesthetic questions are critically researched through material practice. This allows urgent questions to be raised hands-on, when we immediately experience our role and responsibility before the living bodies we create with.  

For whom
The AKI BIO MATTERs programme is open to all students from their 2nd year BA onwards from all departments at ArtEZ. It is an artistic research programme that runs for 2 semesters (15 EC) / possibility of attending one semester (7 EC).

When and where
Every Thursday from 10.00h-16.00 CEST(12 meetings plus an exhibition preparation time).  

Topics of focus (selection)

  • Art and Design in Anthropocene – rethinking the anthropocentrism;
  • Biohacking Human – on genetic essentialism;
  • Growing your Art – working with bacteria, mushrooms, and plants; 
  • Biodesign for Plastocene – making your own bioplastic;
  • Living images – on alchemy of vision and nonhuman gaze.  

The programme is led by Dr. Agnieszka Anna Wołodźko who has a background in philosophy of art, art and science relations, posthumanism and new materialism. During the programme she gives lectures and practical workshops that complement each other and guide students in their research. 

Collaborating tutors: Patrick Mangnus, who teaches about biomaterial methods in graphic arts; Aalt van de Glind who teaches about non-human and non-lens photography. 

The programme invites various artist and designers as guest teachers. Previous guest artists and designers were: Raphael Kim, Aniela Hoitink, Sonja Bäumel, Zeger Reyers, Špela Petrič, Adam Zaretsky, Pei-Ying Lin, Christine van der Heide and Adriana Knouf.

Contact and registration
Dr. Agnieszka Anna Wołodźko, email a.wolodzko@artez.nl 

Past public events
Living Matters online exhibition – storytelling by AKI Bio Matters research on the precarity that has always been now, June 2020: https://studiumgenerale.artez.nl/nl/studies/blog/living+matters+online+exhibition/  

How on Earth presents Living Images – movie screening series on ecologies of vision in collaboration with Artez Studium Generale 2019: https://studiumgenerale.artez.nl/nl/agenda/how+on+earth+presents+living+images/ 

Biodesign of Plastocene exhibition and symposium at Tetem 27 March – 7 April 2019
The present exhibition is a result of the artistic research programme at AKI BIO MATTERs in 2018/2019 that addresses the problems of anthropocene and materially speculates on possible scenarios of change through biodesign practice: https://tetem.nl/event/aki-bio-matters-biodesign-of-plastocene/  

Science-Friction workshop and symposium at the Design Lab UT Twente 22 November 2017
– symposium on the contemporary discussions around the practices of biotechnologies that asked how new biotech bodies create disruptions that change our way of living. It was the joint production by AKI and DesignLab University of Twente curated by Agnieszka Anna Wołodźko and Frank Kresin: https://www.utwente.nl/en/events/2017/11/229409/science-frictions  

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