ANICKA YI: ART, PHYSICAL PERCEPTION AND SCIENCE
“What is natural? How do we manage the ownership of life’s materials? What responsibilities does designing biology carry, and should that design respond to the world and reflect its values—especially at a time when we can now see our own species’ extinction on the horizon?”
One of the most innovative contemporary artists working today, the 2018 Summit speaker Anicka Yi merges artistic experimentation with scientific research. An exploration into emerging forms of life, her work addresses present day questions around migration, artificial intelligence and climate emergency. In her practice, Anicka examines concepts of ‘the biopolitics of the senses’, exploring how physical perception is shaped by assumptions related to gender, race, and class. Working with ‘unusual’ materials such as live bacteria, human sweat, organic decomposition and agar plates, her artworks invite the viewer to use all of their senses, encompassing sight, smell, sound and touch. By focusing on smell in particular–the sense mostly associated with women–Anicka aims to challenge the art industry system which prioritises the gaze and its historically male connotations. At the same time, she questions relationships between smell and memories, emotions and prejudices.
Some of her works include a fragrance merging chemical compounds from Asian American women and ants Immigrant Caucus (2017) and a display of metal pins corroding in ultrasonic gel Shameplex (2015).
Anicka Yi, Maybe She’s Born With It, 2015
Anicka Yi, Biologizing The Machine (tentacular trouble), 2019. Photo by Renato Ghiazza
Anicka Yi Talk at the 2018 Verbier Art Summit
At the 2019 Venice Biennale, Anicka produced giant pods made of kelp filled with animatronic insects Biologizing The Machine (tentacular trouble) as well as panels of soil in which living organisms were controlled by an artificial intelligence Terra Incognita.
Now, Anicka created her most ambitious project to date, on view from 12 October 2021 until 16 January 2022 at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. Frances Morris, the Director of Tate Modern, said: “Anicka Yi has developed a reputation for highly innovative work. Her installations are unforgettable, using the latest scientific ideas and experimental materials in unexpected ways. The results not only engage the senses but also tackle some of the big questions we face today about humanity’s relationship to nature and technology.”
On 15 October at 6.30 PM (GMT+1), Tate Modern will organise an Evening with Anicka Yi, in which the artist will discuss her commission and answer questions about her work.