By Robert Frolla


Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts, an interactive bio-art installation, is now showing at RMIT Gallery until 18 February 2017.


Morbis Artis examines disease through metaphorical and actual depictions, and explores the fractured nature between human and cellular life. The exhibition comprises 11 artistic works, where each piece uses a different multimedia form to illustrate the biological chaos of the world it explores.


All the works in Morbis Artis depict disease in sublime and awe-inspiring ways, and have been described as ‘awfully malign and deliciously exquisite’.


By exploring the biological nature of disease, Morbis Artis also raises questions and concerns about what makes life or sentient beings, and what determines which lives are saved, exploited and destroyed.


“Just as disease leaks its way into all matter and anti-matter, so does our understanding of the biological in the age of species and habitus destruction,” says Morbis Artis co-curator Sean Redmond.


“Disease as metaphor and viral and toxic threat is employed to both condition our responses to non-human life, illness, and to regulate the way we inhabit both professional life and everyday encounters.”


Bio-art is an art practice that originated in the late 1980s, but has become more prevalent due to recent technological advancements in bioengineering. The artists in Morbis Artis consider bio-art ‘a crossover of art and the biological sciences, with living matter, such as genes, cells or animals, as its new media’.


Among the artists exhibiting their work is Melburnian biomedical animator Drew Berry, who collaborated with Icelandic artist Björk on her ‘Hollow’ music video and on an accompanying music app for Biophilia, her 2011 album that explored similar themes to Morbis Artis.


Other artists in Morbis Artis are (((20Hz))), Alison Bennett, Cameron Bishop, Chris Henschke, Harry Nankin, Andrea Rassell, Sean Redmond, Joshua Redmond, Simon Reis, Jodi Sita, Lienors Torre and Anne Wilson.


In support of the exhibition, there will also be free talks and panel discussions with the artists themselves. You can see them at the following dates and times:


Today, 5.30–6.30pm: Panel Discussion with: Cameron Bishop, Chris Henschke, Harry Nankin, Jodi Sita, Darrin Verhagen and Anne Wilson

Tue 6 Dec, 1–2pm: Artist Talk: Alison Bennett and Jodi Sita

Thu 8 Dec, 5.30–6.30pm: Panel Discussion with: Alison Bennett, Drew Berry, Sean Redmond, Josh Redmond and Lienors Torre

Tue 13 Dec, 12.30–1.30pm: Artist Talk: Chris Henschke and Harry Nankin



Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts
Open till 18 February 2017
Free entry


RMIT Gallery
344 Swanston St
Monday to Friday: 11am – 5pm
Thursday: 11am – 7pm
Saturday: 12 – 5pm
Closed on Sundays and public holidays.




Robert is a freelance editor for Busybird Publishing, and has edited for Writers Victoria’s The Victorian Writer and Phantasmagoria Magazine.

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