“aDNA” (2022) takes the form of a contemporary animal bone which has been carved with textures that explore the processes of bioarchaeology and of infection with bovine tuberculosis, a zoonotic disease that can be transferred to humans from livestock. The carvings are impregnated with a piece of ancient DNA (aDNA), known as an insertion element, which is an indicator for tuberculosis-causing organisms, in this case Mycobacterium bovis (bovine tuberculosis). It was amplified from a sample of human bone from an Iron age burial in the Siberian permafrost. The artist worked hands-on in the lab with bioarchaeologist Professor Mike Taylor to repeat his pioneering experiment where he first found bovine tuberculosis in these ancient remains, the earliest example of the disease’s genetic fingerprint to be found in humans. Bioarchaeology is a painstaking process, as over time DNA degrades so only the tiniest fragments remain.
In collaboration with Professor Mike Taylor. The project was made possible by Anna Dumitriu Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) fellowship at the University of Surrey, hosted by Professor Mark Chambers.
“aDNA” was exhibited as part of “Entangled Health“, Tuesday 21st June 2022 at the University of Surrey (UK)
“aDNA” was exhibited as part of “Collateral Effects” at the North Wall Oxford (UK) from the 5th – 29th October 2022.
“aDNA” was exhibited as part of BioArt Knowledge: A Solo Exhibition by Anna Dumitriu at the Yarrow Gallery in Oundle, Near Peterborough, UK, from 9th November – 6th December 2023.