I’am is an installation diptych, comprising “Immortality for Two” and “Anti-Marta”, which explores the limits of human individuality in the face of an evolving biotech-based society. It represents the relationship between an artist and a scientist, but also the boundary between art and science and the limits of our own identity. Marta and Luís, an artist and an immunologist, have made a pact for life: mated, married, and united.
The search for an artistic representation of this pact led to the immortalization of each other’s white blood cells through viruses or the transplantation of skin grafts. Since the immortal cell lines are involved in immune defense, they must be kept in isolation. The skin transplants were also rapidly rejected, given the immune differences between the spouses. Yet, in both cases, their pact lives on. The immortal cell lines co-exist in virtual space with the video projection of the live cell cultures. The graft rejection led to the production of molecules (antibodies) that will forever be able to identify the other, as with the acquisition of a seventh sense.
This project was developed with support from Cultivamos Cultura, Ectopia and the Enlight-ten Marie Sklodowska-Curie Initial Training Network.
Video director: Jamie Hurcomb
Assistant director: Katrina Singleton
Surgery: Dr. Ales Laskovsek
With support from Camões – Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, I. P.
Marta de Menezes (PT) is among the first artists to work with biotechnology, contributing to the creation of bioart. She has shown that biology research laboratories can be used as art studios. Her many artworks have incorporated materials and expertise from different disciplines (CRISPR/Cas9, MRI, structural biology, microbiology, among others). Her work has been presented throughout the globe in exhibitions, conferences, and publications. https://www.martademenezes.com
Luís Graça (PT) is a MD and Professor of Immunology at the University of Lisbon Medical School, where he directs a research group in cellular immunology. His most significant scientific contributions have been related to the fields of transplants and autoimmunity. Graça has collaborated with several artists, and artworks developed in his lab have been exhibited worldwide.