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January 13, 2004

UMBC's Center for Art and Visual Culture presents
Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution

Alexis Rockman, The Farm (2000)UMBC’s Center for Art and Visual Culture presents Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution, organized by Exit Art and co-curated by Marvin Heiferman and Carol Kismaric, from January 29 through March 13, 2004.

About the Exhibition
Paradise Now scrutinizes and questions the profound shifts in our basic understanding and acceptance of nature’s (formerly) incontrovertible truths regarding genetic engineering. Featured in the exhibition are works by Heather Ackroyd & Dan Harvey, Suzanne Anker, Dennis Ashbaugh, Aziz + Cucher, Brandon Ballengée, Christine Borland, Nancy Burson, Helen Chadwick, Kevin Clarke, Keith Cottingham, Bryan Crockett, Christine Davis, George Gessert, Rebecca Howland, Ronald Jones, davidkremers, Jane Lackey, Julian LaVerdiere, Karl S. Mihail & Tran T. Kim-Trang, Larry Miller, Steve Miller, Frank Moore, Alexis Rockman, Bradley Rubenstein, Nicolas Rule, Christy Rupp, Gary Schneider, Laura Stein, Eva Sutton, Catherine Wagner and Janet Zweig. The co-curators state:

We are at a threshold, witnesses to the moment when genetic research is rewriting the definition of life. Biotechnology is altering the food we eat, and the information revealed by the decoding of the human genome will give science, medicine, and business unprecedented power. Increasingly, the news media and popular culture are alerting the public to the heated dialogue that is underway about what our brave new world might become. Daily, the unusual procedures and outrageous predictions that were once the subject of science fiction are announced as realities. Each new announcement triggers hope and controversy and guarantees further debate among humanitarians, profit seekers, legal experts, ethicists, politicians, nations, and the public, all in search of paradise, now.

davidkremers: trophoblast (1992)Artists have claimed an important role in this ongoing exploration, creating images that literally give shape to abstract, complex concepts. Stretching the traditions of portraiture and landscape, working with the genetic revolution’s new language and images, they raise questions about the social, ecological, economic, and ethical implications of science’s breakthroughs. The works in Paradise Now investigate urgent issues and concerns triggered by the modification of human cells, nature, and food, and provide viewers with an opportunity to pay closer attention to the dramatic advances in science and to reflect upon the boundaries between science and the human imagination. Some artists make use of new scientific images and information to explore the meaning of identity and the options that can alter our understanding of individuality. They speculate about how the genetic revolution will force us to rethink race, the inevitability of disease and death, and our need to control our bodies, our lives, and our fate. Others consider how we shape nature to meet our desires and demands, manipulating the genetic makeup and enhancing the size and productivity of animals and plants.

With the new power of biotechnology come progress, debate, and protest. Will we live longer, healthier, more perfect lives? Will new discoveries and products have unsuspected consequences to the land and to our health? How will each of us face the challenges, choices, and opportunities that the genetic revolution promises? The artists in Paradise Now speculate about these new parameters of life and these expressions of scientific and corporate creativity with a mixture of awe and concern.

Events and programming include:

  • Kathy Marmor, associate professor of media arts at the University of Vermont, will present a performance entitled Kitchen Science on Friday, January 30th at 12:30 and 8:30 on Main Street in The Commons. Kitchen Science is a tour de force that makes extracting DNA fun an accessible. Her David Lettermanesque banter whirls together household engineering, social engineering and genetic engineering to make one mighty tasty thought provoking DNA soufflé.
  • Imagining the Invisible, an exhibition of research photographs from UMBC’s Department of Biological Sciences, will be on display from January 29th through March 13th in the Skylight Lounge, The Commons. An opening reception for Imagining the Invisible will be held on February 5th from 2 to 4 pm. Admission to the exhibition is free.
  • An opening reception for Paradise Now will be held on February 5th from 5 to 7 pm at the Center for Art and Visual Culture.
  • A panel discussion, Paradise Now?, will be held on Thursday, February 12th from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at the CAVC. Moderated by Phyllis Robinson (Department of Biological Sciences), the panel will include Mark Alice Durant (Department of Visual Arts), David M. Eisenmann (Department of Biological Sciences), Stephen J. Freeland (Department of Biological Sciences), Christina Hung (Imaging Research Center) and Jessica J. Pfeifer (Department of Philosophy).

About the Center for Art and Visual Culture
The Center for Art and Visual Culture is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study of contemporary art and visual culture, critical theory, art and cultural history, and the relationship between society and the arts. The CAVC serves as a forum for students, faculty, and the general public for the discussion of important aesthetic and social issues of the day. Disciplines represented include painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, digital art, video, film, television, design, architecture, advertising, and installation and performance art.

Bryan Crockett: ecce homo (2000)Since 1989, the CAVC has incorporated a number of public programs into its exhibition programming schedule to further impact the communities it serves. Symposia, lecture series, conferences, film series, visiting artist series, and residencies have all been fundamental in an effort to create an ongoing dialogue about contemporary art and culture. The Center has also initiated a number of projects with Baltimore and surrounding schools systems to integrate the contemporary artist and their concerns into the classroom. These projects take place on-site at both middle schools and high schools and are team taught by the instructors at these schools, professional artists, and students from the CAVC’s Internship Program.

Currently the Center produces one to two exhibition catalogues each year. Each document is fully illustrated and contains critical essays on the given subject by a variety of distinguished professionals in the field. With the printing of Minimal Politics: Performativity and Minimalism in Recent American Art in 1997, the CAVC inaugurated a new series of publications entitled Issues in Cultural Theory. These catalogues are published yearly and are distributed internationally through Distributed Art Publishers in New York.

Since 1992, the Center for Art and Visual Culture has actively pursued the organization of exhibitions that contain the aesthetic, theoretical, and educational potential to reach both a national and international audience. Over the years, the CAVC has traveled these exhibition projects to a broad spectrum of museums, professional non-profit galleries, and universities national and internationally. These traveling exhibitions include:

  • White: Whiteness and Race in Contemporary Art (2003)
  • Fred Wilson: Objects and Installations (2001)
  • Adrian Piper: A Retrospective (1999)
  • Bruno Monguzzi: A Designer’s Perspective (1998)
  • Minimal Politics (1997)
  • Kate Millet, Sculpture: The First 38 Years (1997)
  • Layers: Contemporary Collage from St. Petersburg, Russia (1995/96)
  • Notes In Time: Leon Golub and Nancy Spero (1995)
  • Ciphers of Identity (1994)
  • Nancy Graves: Recent Works (1993)
  • Environmental Terror (1992)

Beyond the scope of these traveling exhibitions, the Center for Art and Visual Culture also undertakes an exhibition schedule that includes a Faculty Biennial, and projects such as the Joseph Beuys Tree Partnership. As part of the educational mission of the CAVC, one graduate thesis exhibition and one undergraduate senior exhibition are scheduled on a yearly basis.

This multi-faceted focus for presenting exhibitions, projects and scholarly research publications focused on contemporary art and cultural issues positions the Center for Art and Visual Culture in a unique position within the mid-Atlantic region.

Hours of Operation
Sunday: Closed
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Wednesday: 10 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Thursday: 10 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Friday: 10 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.
Saturday: 10 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.

Admission to the CAVC and all events is free.

CAVC offices: 410-455-3188
UMBC Artsline (24 hour recorded message): 410-455-ARTS
Media inquiries only: 410-455-3370

CAVC website:
UMBC Arts website:
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  • From I-695, take Exit 12C (Wilkens Avenue) and continue one-half mile to the entrance of UMBC at the roundabout intersection of Wilkens Avenue and Hilltop Road. Turn left and follow signs to the Fine Arts Building
  • From Washington and points south, proceed north on I-95 to Exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Fine Arts Building
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Images for Media
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Keith Cottingham: Fictitious Portrait series (1993)


Posted by dwinds1 at January 13, 2004 12:00 AM