Lets Experiment with Ourselves
Whilst this project was initiated prior to the founding of Office of Experiments, it informed the approach. Undertaken at the National Insitute for Medical Research in 2004-5, the project explored the ethics of scientific research non-method of self-experimentation. As a residency, it involved in depth dialogue with researchers from a wide range of disciplines. An experiment then was proposed as a clinical trial, but rejected on the grounds of having a cultural rather than clinical rationale. This experiment became The Void.
The title of this experiment refers to the Yves Klein exhibition of 1958 ‘Le Vide’ at Gallery Iris Clert in Paris. Infamous for the exhibitions perceived lack of content, an empty room painted white, it was nonethless the cocktail served at the ‘vernissage’ (opening night) that became the vehicle for this experiment. The clear gin-based cocktail, mixed by the famous artist bar La Coupole, contained the chemical Methylene Blue, and once drunk would later turn the urine of the drinker blue.
In ‘The VOID’ visitors to the experiment-event could become self-experimenters by taking the pill that was distributed as an artwork from the artist, who was sealed inside a bubble, signing each as an individual work. The effect was the same, and self-experimenters literally became the artwork – what was described as a form of ‘invasive aesthetics’ as they peed blue for the following days.
The VOID was exhibited at International 3 inManchester, with Max Planck Institute in Berlin, and with Barbican Gallery in London.
NIMR residency funded by Wellcome Trust. The VOID was commissioned by Cecilia Andersson.
Trust Me, I am an Artist
Amongst the many outcomes that followed this experiment was the indirect development of the project’ Trust Me I am an Artist’ by curators, scientists and organisations in the UK and Europe. Featuring an image supplied by one of the self-experimenters on its cover, the documents that were prepared with a pharmacist researcher was scrutinised by an ethics committee gathered for the event at Arts Catalyst in London. The proposal was once again rejected. Some art it turns out is just unethical in scientific terms, which we feel is reassuring.