membrane tensions

membrane tensions (2021)

Installation. Glass containers with SCOBY culture, bacterial cellulose sculptures, webcams, overhead projector, drawings. Livestream. Timelapse.

Commissioned piece by the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery.

Transforming the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery into an active laboratory, ‘membrane tensions’ features a constellation of new, site-specific works composed of cellulose that allude to the beginning of life where the delineation between internal and external was essential for life forms to first emerge. Membranes are permeable, fluid, active, and responsive. Contain but do not isolate. Are a site of interaction but at the same time, a site of tension. This work explores the contained, merged, engulfed, and stretched in order to understand common origins, evolution through associations, and ways for building a culture able of remediation, healing, and regeneration.

The first section presents living cultures of SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) whose conditions are monitored weekly. The cultures produce bacterial cellulose that is harvested on-site and used to intervene the Gallery windows. As an invitation to stretch our membranes and be able to interact with the other, to extend our range of care, this intervention wants to place us all inside of a big same membrane.

Live stream: harvesting and windows interventions (min 1:44)

 The second part of the installation presents lightweight sculptures and drawings made of the same material (bacterial cellulose). Taking as a reference the symbiogenesis theory and creating imaginary micropaleontological explorations, this wants to build on the idea that life has always been embedded in communities.

Finally, in a world where isolation and confinement are part of our current reality, where individualistic and egocentric ideas are the basis of societies, and where walls are built, this piece questions the possibility of changing them for membranes: capable of interaction, and a place of encounter and relationships. 

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