Caitlin Berrigan

Friday, November 19th, 2010 at 8:09
MIT Media Lab [E14], 6th Floor, Room 633, 75 Amherst Street, Cambridge, MA

knitVirus_cropped[Media Lab Map] Through edible sculpture, video performance and participatory actions, Caitlin Berrigan initiates dialogue about the unnerving spaces of biopolitics and culture. She facilitates a circuit of transactions among people and material things in which the audience and the artwork become indistinguishable. Symbolically charged materials — such as milk, marshmallows, viruses and bodily organs — are put into tension with intimacy, humor and disgust. This delicately provocative tactic sparks dissonance in the audience’s visceral and cognitive experience of her work, allowing multivalent readings and responses. In producing anxiety and revealing layers of ambiguous emotions, Berrigan’s artwork opens a space of potential to confront uncertainty within the context of social issues.
Common threads in her work include embodied knowledges and making space to air our complicated antagonisms and co-evolutions with pathogens. Viral Confections are edible chocolates shaped into the protein structure of the hepatitis C virus. Desire to eat the enticing chocolates is mixed with repulsion for the infectious virus. This unnerving dialectic has proved to be an exciting and approachable way to ignite discussion and create awareness about an extremely prevalent and underrepresented disease. Boobalicious is an ice cream social with kulfi-flavored ice cream made from human breast milk, provoking visceral responses that reveal our cultural conditioning to reproductive technologies, the abject, the pleasurable, and the taboo. Traces is a renewable sculpture of the artist’s own disembodied kidney, cast in frozen spit. Every two hours a new frozen organ is put on display, only to melt and drip away. The artist carefully traced the topography of her internal organ from a 3D MRI in order to materialize its form outside of her body.
Berrigan has presented her work internationally, including at the Whitney Museum’s Initial Public Offerings, Storefront for Art & Architecture, Gallery 400 Chicago, Anthology Film Archives, the Vancouver Olympics and 0047 Gallery Oslo. She has been an invited speaker at the New Museum, Harvard Medical School, and the Max Planck Institute. Berrigan received an Agnes Gund fellowship to attend the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture (2008) and was an artist in residence at PROGRAM in Berlin (2009) and the Bioarts Initiative at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2007). She holds a Master’s in visual art from MIT (2009) and a B.A. in art history and production from Hampshire College (2004). Raised in Mendocino, California and schooled in Massachusetts, she has lived in New York City, Paris and Berlin. She is currently living in between one place and another and hopes to find you there.