The work of Suzanne Anker finds itself at a crossroads between the realms of biology and art, psychology and semiotics. Her projects offer us a glimpse of the deep and intensive research required in the field of science, encouraging the viewer to consider how the non-scientific world takes for granted not only the previously unimagined progresses in science but, more simply, the wonderful complexity of our own bodies. Anker’s fastidious experimentation in a wide array of mediums and subjects is an effort to push at the boundaries of what Anker terms ‘BioArt’ and is an incitement of fearlessness and tenacity in the creation of scientific artworks.
Anker’s investigation of this crossroads began with a study of animal and human chromosomes and how they resembled written language. In her 1993-1995 series Zoosemiotics, Anker constructs a ‘text’ from the chromosomes of such animals and bats, alligators and fish, presented as small silver objects affixed to the wall, and though they do resemble rune-like forms it is interesting how they can also take on different meanings presented in a highly de-contextualized setting. For example, the objects in Fish(bottom left image) look like shiny pants in a wide variety of positions. In the Rorschach series, Anker transforms inkblot images into 3-dimensional reliefs reminiscent of fossil molds. The almost always highly symbolic pelvic appearance of the Rorschach inkblots is intensified by the sculptures’ concave forms. Genetic Seed Bank demonstrates the recuperative and adaptive power of nature and the potential for organic materials as a medium for artistic expression.
All of Anker’s works possess an overarching theme of the issues of scientific ethicality. Anker challenges the hygienically sealed nature of the lab, which often alienates individuals or subjects from their species-being, as Karl Marx might say. Bringing these subjects into the light of the public space, not only as scientific experiments but also as deeply-invested and aesthetically stirring art works, allows Anker to bridge the often too-broad gaps between the public, the gallery and the lab.
To see more of Suzanne Anker’s work, visit her website