Helga Griffiths, Identity Analysis
Oscar Niemeyer Museum, 2015 Curitiba Biennial, Brazil
The multi-sense-installation “Identity Analysis” by German artist Helga Griffiths will be on view from October 3rd till December 6th at Oscar Niemeyer Museum as part of Curitiba Biennial 2015 with the theme “Luz Do Mundo” (World Light) curated by Teixeira Coelho. The Biennial website is still under construction, but the catalog can be currently downloaded from there.
The walk-through installation “Identity Analysis” is an abstraction of the human DNA code consisting of four thousand test tubes filled with fluorescein solution. This installation, which presents the artist as a readable code, can be regarded as a metaphor of the architecture of human beings. The genetic structure of the artist was transformed into a transparent, fragile, walk-through sense space which incorporates visual, acoustic, haptic and dynamic elements.
Fluorescein, which is used both in science and in medical research, glows when irradiated with ultraviolet light, giving out a mysterious, almost unreal, green light. The actual genetic code of the artist is contained in the petri dishes on the floor – like the bar-codes used to identify and control goods.
On entering this spiral-shaped coded space, the visitors feel themselves transported into an alien environment of translucent laboratory-like elements. They can pass their hands over the suspended glass surfaces and if several visitors touch different areas simultaneously, the installation can be experienced acoustically as a spatial composition of vibrating, ringing glass sounds.
In this installation the artist reveals herself, displaying her genetic structure, the most personal information of any individual and allows the visitors to enter the innermost sphere of her being. A new perspective is opened, in which the visitors in their individuality become a part of the abstraction of the artist’s DNA and can see her body from the inside and in relation to their bodies.
This installation breaks with the traditional representation of the body, by allowing the visualization of nano worlds and the interchange of visible perceptible worlds. The body is a human experimental space on which, in which and with which research is carried out. The illumination of the body with green fluorescein shows both the scientific aesthetic and the fragility and artificiality. Identity Analysis is a transparent container of fluids defined by the intimate perspective of an electron microscope.
Our perception of the human body and the individual identity has been affected by the technical and scientific study of the body – the feeling of something mysterious, spiritual and perhaps unique has been replaced by the urge to visualize, reveal or illuminate. Researchers and philosophers have always tried to localize the seat of the human soul. Identity Analysis enables the visitor to do what the dancer Saburo Teshigawara once said in an interview “Go through the body to the back of yourself” in other words, discover one’s self through an intense involvement with the structure of the body.
Helga Griffiths is a German based Multi-Sense-Artist working on the intersection of science and art. From 1986 to 1992 she lived in the United States. She has a BFA Degree from Mason Gross School of the Arts/Rutgers University (1991). From 1992 to 1994 she completed her Postgraduate Studies at Kunstakademie Stuttgart in Germany. In 1994 she continued with further studies in New Media at Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe. She received several awards such as the First Prize at “Kunst auf Zeit” in Graz, an “Honorable Mention” at the International Paper Biennial in Düren and the “Lichtenberg”-Award, in Darmstadt (all in 1998), Prize at the “Lightroutes”- Festival in Lüdenscheid in 2003. She received grants for artist residencies at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2001 an NEA grant for a guest professorship at the Escuela de Artes Plasticas in Puerto Rico in 2004, “AIR” in Krems, Austria in 2009.
Her work is in permanent collections such at the TBA TV Station in Tokyo, the Deutsches Hygienemuseum, Dresden or the Leopold-Hoesch-Museum in Düren, Germany. She has exhibited her multi-sense-installations on the intersection of science and art in several international biennials and festivals such as Cairo Biennial, Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial in Japan, Havanna Biennial and Seoul Media Art Biennial. In 2015 she participated at Sequences Festival in Reykjavik. Her work has been shown in international museum exhibitions e.g. Bundeskunsthalle Bonn, Centrum für Lichtkunst, Eindhoven, Kunsthalle Kiel, Institute Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, OK Center Cultural Quarter, Linz, ZKM Karlsruhe and Nevada Art Museum.She participated at international festivals like CYNETart Festival and most recently Sequence Festival in Reykjavik.
A portrait of her work was published in Kunstforum International Magazine.