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37°C more photos

Realizations: 2003, L'Art Biotech, Nantes , France ; 2001, Kapelica Gallery, Ljubljana , Slovenia . Co-production of the project: Educell, Cell Therapy Service.

With the project 37°C the limits of life and death through skin are explored. Observer is experiencing a warm, dark organism-installation space with growing skin cells, which is capable of maintaining and creating life. In the second realization of the project (L'Art Biotech) skin cells are held at 4°C, where their metabolic activities stop and therefore life is stopped, but could be revived again at 37°C.

Human skin cells (as human hair cells) hold certain information about the individual – his or her “code”. In relation to this, projects 37°C and Hair manipulate with living elements taken from human body, and therefore reflect a crucial question – the question of manipulating with life, with repeated birth and mortality. Partition of a living individual into “new” living entities with the same informative content simultaneously means a possibility of his or her repetition. But at the same time this concept also abstracts a person to mere information.

Expropriation of a living element from the body into another environment, where it gets a possibility to live independently from the source body, means also a possibility of autonomous living of a living part of a body. The donor, who comes in contact with the independently living part of him- or herself, comes also in contact with him- or herself as the other. The perception of the living parts, once originating from a living body but now artificially maintained alive separately from this body stimulate various discourses on the topics about life and death.

In her numerous projects Polona Tratnik explores in various ways the microbiology of the human body. With the support of biotechnology using the procedures of fragmentation and reconstruction of the body, the artist manipulates living material. In such a manner she stimulates re-examination of the notion of living and alters the understanding of the human organism, which is undergoing profound change through tissue engineering and other microbiological procedures.

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Special thanks to prof. Miomir Kneževic, PhD and Metka Krašna, PhD, Blood Transfusion Centre of Slovenia –  Tissue Typing Center ; to Educell, Cell Therapy Service; to George Gessert and Leonardo Magazine; to Jurij Krpan, Sandra Sajovic and Kapelica Gallery; to Jens Hauser; to Le Lieu Unique.