Curator: Hans van der Ham
Tekst: Hans van der Ham en Yasmijn Jarram

The clear boundaries between life and death are fading due to rapid developments in the biosciences. Transformation, the fifth group exhibition at Garage Rotterdam, presents this theme in the work of ten contemporary visual artists.

Dick Swaab’s bestseller 'We are our brain', controversial stem cell research, ‘human’ robots and the discovery of the Higgs particle: scientific research plays a major role in contemporary society. Scientists are attempting to get to the bottom of human existence and even to manipulate it. It is not surprising, for example, that the Higgs particle is also called the ‘God particle’.

The quest for the origin of life – and the desire to control it – can be seen as a modern form of alchemy. The goal of this ancient philosophy of nature was to produce gold and other precious metals to discover the philosopher’s stone. Enlightenment and immortality, rather than power and wealth, were the ultimate goal.

Exhibition Transformation (Blikvangen)

Similar explorations can be found in the work of the visual artists participating in Transformation. What they have in common is a fascination for death, life and being able to control both. On the one hand they respond to current scientific developments and on the other hand, they have their own personal motivation to try and unravel the mystery of life. They question the fundamental distinction between life and death, and also between humans and animals.

The ten visual artists of Transformation raise existential questions. Is death inevitable? Is there life after death? What is the value of artificial life? They are taking control of evolution: like modern alchemists.