Caitlin Berrigan

Art that ingests / An erotics of the incorporation of the Other / Gain at the expense of contamination / Art that exists in the bodies of the audience / Abrupt dissolution of boundaries

Caitlin Berrigan’s practice is conceptual, carried by material things: tactile and edible sculpture, immersive installation, electronic media and participatory performance. She is interested in alluring objects and situations that must be activated by participants, initiating an experience in their bodies that connects physiology and intellect. The artwork itself becomes embodied, producing sensate forms of knowledge.

Berrigan’s work is driven by the intimate and complex relationships we have with the environment, the interwoven narratives of technoscience and culture, the molecular, the viral, the grotesque, the unnerving spaces of the body and social responsibility. She is interested in the poetic space of disjuncture produced by mixing critical social issues with humor, irony, disgust and ambiguity. To make politicized subjects palpable in an artwork releases them from our normalized encounters, creates rupture, and inspires a new—if unresolved—way to approach them.

“Viral Confections” (2006) are edible chocolates shaped into the molecular structure of the hepatitis C virus. Desire to eat the enticing chocolates is mixed with repulsion for the infectious virus. This unnerving dialectic has proved to be an exciting and approachable way to ignite discussion and create awareness about an extremely prevalent and underrepresented disease. “The Smelling Committee” (2006-07) is inspired by the olfactory bravado of the original group in 1891. This interactive smelling tour is a goofy yet meaningful ecological awakening through the sensory exploration of our neighborhoods. “Life Cycle of a Common Weed” (2007) is a plant-human exchange of sustenance, in which the artist’s own contaminated blood supply serves as a source of nitrogen-giving fertilizer to the common dandelion, itself a source of medicinal and nutritive value to the artist. “Boobalicious” (2008) is an ice cream social with kulfi-flavored ice cream made from human breast milk, provoking visceral responses that reveal our cultural conditioning to reproductive technologies, the abject, the pleasurable, and the taboo.

She has presented her work in the Whitney Museum’s Initial Public Offerings, Storefront for Art & Architecture, Gallery 400 Chicago, Dumbo Art Under the Bridge Festival, Anthology Film Archives, P.S. 122 Demo Space in New York, L.A. Freewaves, SIGGRAPH, the Conflux Festival, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in D.C., the Bent Festival at Eyebeam, Stuttgart New Media Festival and the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv among other venues and festivals. Berrigan is a Master’s candidate in Visual Studies at M.I.T. and received her B.A. in art production and art history from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture and was an artist-in-residence at the RPI Center for Biotechnology & Bioart and the Experimental Television Center in New York.

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