31 January 2008

Curated by Jens Hauser and featuring work by artists including ORLAN, Stelarc, Wim Delvoye and Tissue Culture and Art Project, sk-interfaces launches FACT's Human Futures programme in Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture.

Dr Peter Butler, who works as a Consultant Plastic Surgeon and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Royal Free and University College Hospitals in London and at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, heads up the face transplantation team at the Royal Free Hospital. He began experimental work leading towards facial transplantation in 1993 at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. The work he has been involved in has received awards from the New England Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, the Plastic Surgery Research Council, USA and the British Association of Plastic Surgeons.

In the UK, Dr Butler set up a clinical research programme in facial transplantation in 2002, one of the first programmes of its kind in the world. In October 2006, after overcoming the ethical hurdles, Peter Butler's team received permission from the NHS Research Ethics Committee to proceed with a series of four full face transplant operations to be carried out at the Royal Free Hospital. Patient selection for facial transplantation is currently ongoing. Three successful partial face transplants have taken place in the world; two in France and one in China. No full face transplant has been performed yet.

sk-interfaces, which is open until 30 March is FACT's first major exhibition of 2008. Advances in bio-medical research together with deconstruction theories in philosophy are reflected in the work of many artists using skin, materially or metaphorically, as an interface, whose work goes beyond the descriptive surface of the skin, to explore issues of xeno-transplants, trans-species and trans-racial exchanges. In recent years, a trend towards the analysis of skin, its functions and meanings, has emerged in the practice of many artists using wet biology, bio-architecture and self-experimentation.

Curator Jens Hauser's book sk-interfaces: Exploding Borders - Creating Membranes in Art, Technology and Society will accompany this landmark exhibition. Bound in a unique thermochromic cover (designed by artist Zane Berzina), this book provides an engaging, critical and thought-provoking approach to how current technologies are changing our perceptions of the body, the self and the interactions between bodies. Edited by one of the leading curators in (bio)technology based art and including contributions from 25 major international artists, scholars and critics in this field, this provocative art and text book examining some of the most contentious moral, aesthetical and philosophical issues of our day will complement the exhibition and encourage debate within this exponentially growing field.

Director and CEO of FACT, Mike Stubbs says, "Curiosity into how the world functions, its structures and how it appears, is common to great artists and great scientists. With this fascination in the relationships between things, comes a responsibility to invent new methods, break boundaries and explore the edges. To have Peter Butler, the person to be given permission to perform the first face transplant in the UK, open our first exhibition within the European Capital of Culture is an honour and marks the significance of our sk-interfaces exhibition."Notes to Editorssk-interfaces opens on 01 February until 30 March, in Gallery 1&2, the Media Lounge and public spaces at FACT