Built to Break
They say opposites attract and when it comes to art and science this old maxim is becoming increasingly true. In recent years museums and galleries have been seeking to bridge the gap between the two disciplines to deliver innovative, accessible and engaging exhibitions to the public. Here, our Exhibition Designer, Bebhinn, tells her experience of one such exhibition, TRAUMA: Built to Break.
I recently had a tourist day in Dublin and, between pints of Guinness, decided to visit the Science Gallery. It’s tricky to find, tucked into the grounds of Trinity College, but definitely worth seeking out. The Gallery is a clever combination of art, science, thinking and design and has been offering temporary thought-provoking exhibitions since 2008.
The current exhibition TRAUMA: Built to Break questions the impact of trauma, both mentally and physically, on people. Through a series of individual artist commissions, the exhibition plays with the perception of trauma: how we recall it, how it affects us, and how we describe it.
On arrival visitors are posed with the question ‘Is Trauma Easier to Forget or Easier to Remember?’ Visitors write their responses, which are then locked away by the first exhibit, Memory Laundering, leaving you to consider the question as you travel through the exhibition. I’ve selected a couple of pieces that, for me, stood out from the collection.
Scarred for Life, Ted Meyer 2015 captures attention immediately with a series of body paint artworks created by those who have been left scarred as a result of illness, injury and life-altering operations.
Meyer’s work celebrates the individuals he features and invites the viewer to do the same.
Hövding Product, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin 2005
Travelling further into the exhibition, you pass a series of sections that showcase safety helmets, displaying the intricate layering and importance of design in saving lives. Presented alongside is a new design, Hövding; a revolutionary bicycle helmet that offers an airbag alternative for cyclists.
Grasp Installation, Colm McNally / CMCM Design 2015
Upstairs, on simple timber tables, lies Grasp; a series of three interactive sculptures by artist Colm McNally which gives visitors the chance to experience the loss of ability in their hands. As an artist, Colm works with heavy-duty machinery, so this piece explores a real fear for him. Visitors are given the seemingly simple task of opening a jar, gaining a tiny insight into what the loss of dexterity could really be like.
Project Syria, Virtual Reality Storytelling, Nonny de la Peña 2014
Project Syria is an exhibit that takes visitors completely out of their comfort zone, by placing them into the virtual 3D environment of present-day Syria. Wearing Oculus goggles visitors are given an uncomfortable, yet unforgettable, experience of the sounds, sights and trauma of Syria under attack.
‘The Flow Towards Europe’, Interactive Visualisations, Ville Saarinen and Juho Ojala. Next to the Oculus clad viewer is a digital screen, its content addressing the current crisis of refugee migration. This installation aims to visually map the mass movement of people to Europe from surrounding countries; a captivating piece of visual statistics that you can view here:
TRAUMA: Built to Break was one of those exhibitions which I wandered into with few expectations, but I now find myself regularly thinking back to the individual pieces. Truly engaging, I’m finding this particular exhibition hard to forget and look forward to what’s next!