Svenja Kratz is a contemporary Australian artist interested in interdisciplinary practice with a focus on cell and tissue cultures. Aside from her work with The Edge as a Fringes Catalyst in 2013, Svenja worked at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) at QUT, where she also completed a PhD in bio-media art.
You can also read about Michelle’s time at The Edge on our blog, including instructions for a DIY laminar flow hood.
DNA Jewellery workshop
Inspiration can come from the strangest of places. Not your traditional jewellery making class, in this workshop Svenja showed participants how to extract DNA from a piece of fruit or vegetable and then use it to create wearable art.
Svenja covered the basics of the bioscience involved and also delved into genetic art by exploring current scientific ideas and discoveries including epigenetics, evolution, the impact of environment on genes and ethics, as well as the work of artists Eduardo Kac and Andre Brodyk.
Fluorescent Future Creatures
Have you ever wanted to learn more about genetic engineering? This hands-on workshop introduced participants to some of the key ideas behind genetic engineering by allowing participants to insert a jellyfish gene into E. coli bacteria. The transformed bacteria glowed fluorescent green under UV light.
In the first session Svenja provided an overview of common genetic engineering techniques and assisted in the transformation of the bacteria. During the second session, participants were able to translate their experience into a natural history museum-style diorama (to take home!).
The exhibition Explorations was developed by Svenja and commented on her engagement with consumer genetics and the often unexpected outcomes of creative practice within the life sciences. The exhibition included two multi-component bodies of work:
Self Portraits in the Genetic Age, which consists of a series of sculptures and computational animations that comment on contemporary genetic insights and the artist’s personal experience of having her DNA genotyped by the commercial gene sequencing company 23 AND ME.
The second series of works collectively titled Deviations from One Potato comment on the artist’s engagement with plant micro-propagation at The Edge. While the artist’s plant culture experiments were largely unsuccessful, the investigation produced a variety of unexpected outcomes, such as the production and maintenance of fruit fly and algal cultures, as well as the development of alternative creative experiments including plant paint, algae drawing and microscopy.