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Gina Czarnecki

Gina Czarnecki's sculpture Palaces features in Material Concerns at LifeSpace.

Palaces (2010-ongoing) is from a series of works titled Wasted, which consider the live-giving potential of ‘discarded’ body parts and their relationship to myth. Its creation was in part inspired by the artist’s then 7 year-old daughter’s inquiry about the tooth fairy’s existence. Czarnecki has noted that historically parts of the human body have been used in medical treatments (such as transplantation), as amulets in battle, and as gifts to deities (or mythical figures such as the tooth fairy).

This work is the centrepoint of this exhibition, and it is no accident that it is a fortress-like structure. It relates to Czarnecki’s ongoing research into the role of artists in discussions concerning the ethics of the use of human tissue. Artists would be required, as scientists, to seek ethical approval for the use of human tissue in research projects, yet the oversight committees and governance structures approving those requests might not have people knowledgeable about art as members. In addition to the health and safety concerns, such a request would also raise the larger question of how art is understood as a research-based practice. Palaces, as a kind of castle, is thus also indicative of the trust we place on authority systems to ensure that human material is stored, preserved and used appropriately.

Gina Czarnecki (b.1965) studied art at Wimbledon College before going on to run workshops for the London Filmmakers Coop (what is now LUX artists’ moving image). Her works in film and installation emphasise human relationships to image, disease, evolution and genetic research. She graduated with a postgraduate diploma in Electronic Imaging at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in 1992 and taught at the College in 1997.

Courtesy of the artist.Commissioned by the Bluecoat, Liverpool and Imperial College London. Supported by The Wellcome Trust, the Science Museum London, and all the donors of milk teeth. Fabrication with MDM Props Ltd.