Think Art-Act Science: Opening Reception & Panel Discussion

Find out what happens when artists spend nine months in a science lab. The exhibit “Think Art – Act Science” opens at SFAI with a performance and panel discussion featuring artists and curators.

Event Details


San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut St., San Francisco, California 94133 United States


September 22, 2011 from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)

What happens when eight artists invade scientific laboratories? Find out in the Think Art-Act Science exhibition on view September 21 through November 12 at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) in the Walter & McBean Galleries.

Transforming the galleries into a working lab, the exhibition is composed of artists who took part in the Swiss artists-in-labs program, an immersive nine-month residency in a scientific research institute or a university science department. During these residencies, the artists gained deep insights into the methodologies of scientific research in areas ranging from biology and biodiversity to cognitive neuroscience and psychology to nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and physics.

Be the first in North America to see the exhibition during the opening reception. Immediately following the reception, participating artist Alexandre Joly performs and a panel discussion in the SFAI Lecture Hall features curator Irène Hediger and artists Pe Lang, Alina Mnatsakanian, and Joly in conversation with SFAI curator Hou Hanru. Hediger and the artists elaborate on how their works investigate the role of technical progress in the information society and how empirical knowledge is situated in a specific time or place. The exhibit is arranged around three main research themes: Ecology and Environment, Spatial Awareness and Emotions, and Exploration of New Technologies. Exhibition design by fontana.hunziker Design Works.


5.30 pm  opening reception begins
6:00 pm  electro-acoustic performance by Alexandre Joly
7:30 pm  exhibition introduction from curator Irene Hediger and panel discussion with visiting artists Alina Mnatsakanian, Alexandre Joly, and Pe Lang moderated by Hou Hanru, Curator SFAI.
9:00 pm  doors close


Hou Hanru

Hou Hanru is the Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs, and Department Chair of Exhibition and Museum Studies at SFAI. He is a prolific, world-renowned curator who received degrees from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and has curated numerous exhibitions and biennales including Shanghai, Venice, and Istanbul. He has been a consultant in many international institutions including the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) and the Guggenheim Museum (New York), and he continues to be a significant international voice on cultural differences in several art journals (Frieze, Art monthly, Third Text).


Irène Hediger

Irène Hediger is Co-Director of the Swiss artists-in-labs program at the Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts (ICS) at the Zurich University of the Arts and curator of the travelling exhibition Think Art – Act Science. After her studies in business administration, she got a degree in organizational development and group dynamics (DAGG) and a Master of Advanced Studies in Cultural Management at the University of Basel. She specializes in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary creative processes and practices and in the development of inclusive and participatory outreach concepts for a general public.


Alexandre Joly

Alexandre Joly lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland, where he studied industrial design and fine art. His artworks are internationally exhibited in several galleries and art festivals. A recurring theme in Joly’s work is the exploration of the interactions between material and sound. Within the last decade, he has received several grants and prizes for his work, including the Prix de la Fondation Irène Reymond in 2010 and the Lauréat du concours artistique pour l’aménagement permanent du parc des Ouches à Genève in 2006.


Peter Lang

Peter Lang is a Swiss artist living in Berlin. Working under his artist name Pe Lang, he began to play music with software and broadened his work to sound installations and self-made kinetic objects. As a versatile sound artist, Pe Lang has exhibited and performed in several museums, galleries, and festivals in Europe and North America, including the Gosia Koscielak Gallery in Chicago, the Espacio Menosuno in Madrid, the Transmediale in Berlin and the Elektra Festival in Montreal. Among other honors, he received the sitemapping/mediaprojects award in 2008 from the Swiss Federal Department of Culture. He continuously performs his works in Europe and abroad.


Alina Mnatsakanian

Armenian by origin, Alina Mnatsakanian is a trans-medial artist who has lived in Tehran, Paris, Los Angeles, and Neuchâtel, Switzerland. A recurring topic in her work is the theme of movement encountered through painting, video, installation and, since 2007, robotics. In her works, she establishes subtle references and interactive situations. Every new experience requires a unique treatment, from painting and sculpture to video, performance, and robotics.


Think Art – Act Science is an initiative of the Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts at the Zurich University of the Arts. The exhibition has been shown in Switzerland and in Barcelona, Spain. The San Francisco installation is made possible by Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council and is a project of the U.S.-wide program ThinkSwiss-Brainstorm the Future. As a leading country in science, research, and technology, Switzerland is working with its American counterparts to address key global topics such as sustainability to better understand trends and arrive at solutions.


Photo: Myleen Hollero

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