Doilies (SARS, HIV, Influenza, Herpes, Hepadna)

digitally fabricated lace sculptures depicting viruses (SARS, HIV, Influenza, Herpes, Hepadna)
Artwork

Doilies (SARS, HIV, Influenza, Herpes, Hepadna)

2004
freestanding computerized machine embroidered lace mounted on velvet
framed dimensions: 16.8 H × 16.8 W × 2.2 D in (42.7 H × 42.7 W × 5.6 D cm) each

Doilies is a series of digitally fabricated lace sculptures depicting viruses created using a computerized embroidery process. The Doilies series re-examines the lace doily as an innocuous domestic artifact that traditionally references motifs from nature. The design of each doily in the series is based on a different enveloped virus structure (HIV, SARS, Influenza, Herpes, Hepadna). The radial symmetry of the doily and aesthetic conventions of lace are conflated with that of the virus structure. Here, the DNA, RNA, protein spikes, and lipid envelopes become unassuming decorative motif. The project explores the “domestication” of biomedical imagery in the quotidian landscape. Bio-terrorism, pandemics, and anti-microbial products alike have heightened our awareness of the microbial world. The project materializes the notion that an heirloom artifact can manifest the psychological heredity of cultural anxieties. Collective traumas borne from disease are rematerialized in an heirloom artifact to be passed on from one generation to the next. The series, created in response to the first SARS coronavirus outbreak (2002–2003), has taken on a broader resonance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the of the original conceptual intentions of the project still emerge, however, with “shelter in place” policies and pleas from medical professionals for the public to “stay home”, the relationship between our biomedical status and our domestic circumstances is now amplified. Craft has also played a prominent role during the crisis as people seek solace in pastimes with hand-made projects including mask making efforts. These material inquiries into the “biomedical imaginary” attempt to unpack our increasing entanglements with the microbial world.

Doilies is a series of digitally fabricated lace sculptures depicting viruses created using a computerized embroidery process. The Doilies series re-examines the lace doily as an innocuous domestic artifact that traditionally references motifs from nature. The design of each doily in the series is based on a different enveloped virus structure (HIV, SARS, Influenza, Herpes, Hepadna). The radial symmetry of the doily and aesthetic conventions of lace are conflated with that of the virus structure. Here, the DNA, RNA, protein spikes, and lipid envelopes become unassuming decorative motif. The project explores the “domestication” of biomedical imagery in the quotidian landscape. Bio-terrorism, pandemics, and anti-microbial products alike have heightened our awareness of the microbial world. The project materializes the notion that an heirloom artifact can manifest the psychological heredity of cultural anxieties. Collective traumas borne from disease are rematerialized in an heirloom artifact to be passed on from one generation to the next. The series, created in response to the first SARS coronavirus outbreak (2002–2003), has taken on a broader resonance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the of the original conceptual intentions of the project still emerge, however, with “shelter in place” policies and pleas from medical professionals for the public to “stay home”, the relationship between our biomedical status and our domestic circumstances is now amplified. Craft has also played a prominent role during the crisis as people seek solace in pastimes with hand-made projects including mask making efforts. These material inquiries into the “biomedical imaginary” attempt to unpack our increasing entanglements with the microbial world.

Discover Magazine

...Splan swathes scientific observation in elegance. Splan’s creations demand a double take—a second look that reveals the scholarly rigor behind the pretty surface...

Lexo

...A number of contemporary artists are collaborating between medicine and the textile industry, exploring how each discipline can inform the other. Artist Laura Splan in her 2004 project explores the connection between textiles, art and science. Through her work, during the SARS outbreak in 2002–04, she combined art and textiles with technology and medicine. The design of the lace fabric is based on a different structure of the virus (HIV, SARS, Influenza, Herpes). Her project is a reflection on the “softening” of microbial as well as psychological images of cultural anxieties against circulating viruses...

Frieze

...Splan turns the immaterial into substance, giving form to the processes of scientific research that remain unseen: the invisible labour of biotechnology. Citing a range of inspiration, from 16th-century surgeon Gaspare Tagliacozzi through to Victorian samplers...her use of craft is, ‘at odds with the deadly microbes that they depict...rendering something unfamiliar and strange into something decorative and domesticated’...

PNAS

…Laura Splan’s oeuvre has beauty and death, illness and medicine, science and fashion paired in artworks that provoke and challenge our notions and traditions…methodical experimentation is integral to her artistic process…

American Craft

...Laura Splan disturbs our notions of beauty and femininity by crafting traditionally feminine objects out of unpredictable materials. By using the body as material for textile-based craft, historically thought of as women’s work, Splan shifts the conversation about her work in a way that hearkens back to Miriam Schapiro’s femmage pieces. But in its nearly painful intimacy with the body, Splan’s work has a fresh and universal application: all viewers have their own bodies to contemplate...

ArtXX: Radical Art Magazine

...Laura Splan transforms our human temporality into both comforting and unsettling art. It’s magical, heart-stopping...

Village Voice

..Splan’s doilies are uncannily mesmerizing...

Kitchen Sink

...Such is the nature of Splan’s work though, with its willingness to explore what happens when you combine the familiar or domestic with the less comfortable realities of the human body and medical biology...although it would be easy to focus on the shock-value of Splan’s work...there’s something far more revealing about having to re-think an image after its process is shown to lie a little closer to the bone than we’re comfortable with...”

Triënnale Brugge
Museum of Arts and Design
The Nobel Prize Museum