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Miku Aoki zoe 2019 2020 Image by Rob Battersby Installation view at FACT WEB RES

“zoe” (2021)

When artist Miku Aoki discovered she shared a birth year with Dolly the Sheep (the first cloned mammal) and was similarly conceived through IVF, she became deeply curious about the scientific research into artificial life that enabled her existence.

Aoki was fascinated by the work of John Hunter -an 18th century surgeon and pioneer of artificial insemination- viewing him as a kind of abstract ‘father’, as without his research, she would not exist. Hunter also avidly collected, organised and dissected a wide range of animals, and was particularly curious about malformed specimens that could not be easily classified. He theorised that within these examples lay the secret to mutant cell immortalisation - the possibility for a cell to keep regenerating after death - which is the meaning of life itself.

Having visited The Hunterian Museum in Glasgow in 2019, which holds the collections of John and his surgeon brother William Hunter, Aoki became inspired to recreate the museum and its collection. Reworking the ideas of science as an objective, unbiased narrative through the traditionally domestic use of textile and hand embroidery, Aoki has created a personalised version of an interactive ‘cabinet of curiosities’ with large tapestry hangings and stuffed mutant specimens that visitors can inspect and explore.

Courtesy of the artist. With thanks to The Hunterian Museum and Kurumi Ono. Supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and The Japan Foundation.

Artists