Friday 09/17/21 1PM
Conversations · Exhibition-Related · Exhibition-Related

Bioethics and World-Making: Creativity in Synthetic Biology

Cover Image:

Lynn Hershman Leeson, The Infinity Engine: Genetically Modified Cat, 2014. Archival digital print, 40 × 30 in (101.6 × 76.2 cm). Courtesy the artist; Anglim Gilbert Gallery, San Francisco; and Bridget Donahue Gallery, New York

This panel discussion will explore recent developments and artistic collaborations within the field of synthetic biology. In conjunction with her solo exhibition “Twisted,” now on view at the New Museum, artist Lynn Hershman Leeson will join her collaborators, eminent international scientists Thomas Huber, George Church, and Richard Novack, for a panel discussion moderated by ethicist Takunda Matose. Together, they will consider the bioethics of their shared inquiry, as well as the larger implications for this work at the vanguard of artistic and scientific exploration.

About the Speakers

George Church is a professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and a professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Church has received numerous awards, including the American Society for Microbiology Promega Biotechnology Research Award (2009), the Heptannual Bower Award (2011), the Triennial International Steven Hoogendijk Award (2010), and the Mass High Tech All-Star Award (2010). Church completed his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at Harvard University, and holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology and chemistry from Duke University.

Lynn Hershman Leeson is an artist who lives and works in San Francisco and New York. Her recent retrospective exhibition, “Civic Radar,” traveled from ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany (2014) to Deichtorhallen Hamburg / Sammlung Falckenberg, Germany (2015); Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, Germany (2016); and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, United States (2017). Selected recent solo exhibitions have been held at Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid, Spain (2019); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (2018); Haus der elektronischen Künste, Basel, Switzerland (2018); and the Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom (2015). Her films have screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, and the Berlin International Film Festival, among others. Hershman Leeson has received numerous awards, including a VIA Art Fund Award (2019), a Siggraph Lifetime Achievement Award (2018), the College Art Association’s Distinguished Feminist Award (2018), an Anonymous Was a Woman Award (2014), and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2009).

Richard Novak is an entrepreneur and bioengineer at the Wyss Institute at Harvard. His career focuses on the positive global impact on health and environment through science education and technology innovation. Novack is the founder of Future Scientist, a nonprofit that creates sustainable solutions through community empowerment with science and engineering education. He holds a PhD in Bioengineering from University of California, San Francisco and University of California, Berkeley and a BS in Biology from Emory University.

Thomas Huber is an immunologist and biochemist by training, and currently head of research at Almirall, a pharmaceutical company focusing on skin diseases. While working at the Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research, he and artist Lynn Hershman Leeson collaborated on a project for Hershman’s solo exhibition, “Antibodies” (2018) at House of Electronic Arts, Basel, Switzerland. Huber holds a PhD in Biochemistry from Universität Zürich.

Takunda Matose is a bioethicist and philosopher working on questions surrounding justice in health care and genetic technologies. He is currently a Joint Fellow-in-Residence at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School. Matose will be joining the faculty at Loyola University Chicago as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy starting in the fall of 2022. Matose holds a PhD in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University, a Masters of Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA from University of Cincinnati.

Accessibility: We strive to make our programs as accessible as possible. For full accessibility information, including services available by request, please click here.


New Museum Digital Initiatives are generously supported by Hermine and David B. Heller.

This program is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

We gratefully acknowledge the Research & Residency Council of the New Museum for its support of Education and Public Engagement Programs.

Endowment support is provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the Skadden, Arps Education Programs Fund; and the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fund for Education Programs at the New Museum.

Support for “Lynn Hershman Leeson: Twisted” can be viewed here.

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