[-empyre-] response to Robert's first post

Christiane_Paul at whitney.org Christiane_Paul at whitney.org
Wed Feb 6 02:56:51 EST 2013

Thanks, Robert! I think your posts very much capture Shani's process and personality, and beyond that provide a model for "artists in labs." (I don't know how many on the list are actively engaged in this type of practice and/or work with wetware.) Shani was a rigorous researcher, a role that is still often perceived as antithetical to that of the artist; playing both of these roles and ultimately transcending their either/or is probably at the core of art-science practice. Shani's experience with research also was crucial to prolonging her life, to finding out about trials and new approaches and working with teams of doctors to determine her treatment. I often thought how difficult dealing with terminal cancer must be for people who do not have Shani's amazing abilities and experience as a researcher. (And sharing her findings was of course her motivation behind the Anti-Cancer Survival Kit, her last project).

When I was going through all the documents related to Shani's work on my hard drive I found a proposal for a project -- The Eco - Ar(t)[ch]ivist -- which she had developed for the Whitney's artport site; I had completely forgotten about it (since the funding for that series of commissions ultimately fell through):

"The Eco - Ar(t)[ch]ivist is a online interactive visualization system examining the relationship between artistic creations, activist formations and scientific innovation / discovery relevant to environmental discourse over the past forty years. This project is inspired by the recent re-emerging boom in environmental art, as well new approaches to arts & science collaborations and the contemporary as well as historical synergies between certain artistic and activist interests."

From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] on behalf of Robert Nideffer [nideffer at gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2013 7:04 PM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] response to Robert's first post

Thanks for your comments Renate. I was able to locate the password to view
the full length video for those that are interested. From your first link,
at the bottom of the trailer you'll see a "To view full video... click
here" which takes you to a pass protected page -- just enter "humans" to
gain access.

I also was struck by the immediacy of Dr. Schneider's response. I went with
her to that first meeting at his lab. A number of others would follow. The
specifics of much of the initial conversation escape me now. It was
background about the nature of his research, some discussion of Shani's
most recent history with cancer, and of course her project ideas. I do
remember his being quite taken by Shani, If I had to guess I'd think it in
part due to her deep knowledge of her disease, the considerable research
she'd done on laboratory practices involving mice, her directness and
openness, her motivations, and her desire to translate her experience into
something she could creatively offer to others while in the midst of
dealing with her own terminal illness. He introduced us to the researchers
working with the mouse models in his facility (exclusively women as I
recall, at least the ones we met and who became featured in the video), and
essentially granted her access on the spot.

Walking out I remember turning to her and expressing my amazement at what
had just happened, since it's very rare to be allowed access to film inside
an animal research facility, especially for a visual artist. If she was
surprised, she hid it well. I do know she was very happy... and immediately
began planning what to do next.

On Sun, Feb 3, 2013 at 4:07 PM, Renate Ferro <rtf9 at cornell.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear Robert,
> Thank you so much for agreeing to be our guest during such an
> emotional time for you. I wanted
> to respond to you sooner but your post was so compelling yet complex I
> found myself reading
> it and then rereading it over again.  I post the URL to the website
> "Dying for the Other" for our subscribers
> and those who may not be familiar.
> http://beatrizdacosta.net/Dying_for_the_Other/
> Also this on Vimeo
> http://vimeo.com/33170755
> The timeliness in which Dr. Schneider responded to her first query
> seems remarkable.  I look forward to your sharing not only this
> completed project but also the ones that were in progress.  Can you
> let us know if there
> are any online resources for the video project?  This month's
> discussion may be a good place to begin to help assimilate these
> resources.
> Many thanks again to both you and Christiane.  Looking forward to
> hearing from both of you.
> Renate

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