The Blue Lotus Foundation (London, UK) is featuring the work of artist Jo Milne during the month of August with the exhibition "Viral Histories and Shapeshifters", a series of work developed during her residency at IRB Barcelona in 2020-21, and later during the IN_CERT project, at Can Manyé (Alella).
Her artworks look at the shifting nature of viruses and the tenuous nature of molecular structures. In pieces such as "Viral Histories", Jo Milne focuses on the invisible web of myriad viral and microbial beings that accompany us and the narratives they leave in their wake.
Viruses are resistant to specification, considered by some as living, and others as non-living, replicating rather than reproducing and in the Shapeshifter and Cytagion series, Jo Milne echoes the nature of viruses as adaptable entities, passive and active.
In "The Weft of Invisible" (2020) friends painted on Mylar, a crystalline web is cast over the viral forms of influenza, Ebola, Varicella, HIV and SARS-Cov-2, that lurk in the background. Amplified to a superhuman scale, the virions loom but resist capture.
Only through the prohibited act of touch can the two skins of the painting be brought into contact bringing the viral entities into view. The viral forms are omnipresent but concealed by the white lines that trace a network of pentagrams that acts as a calming field of disturbance.
Whereas, the Shapeshifters (2021-2) series expands the earlier group of table-top drawings, "Contingent Contagion" (2020) developed during the pandemic.
Made out of kitchen cloths and paper pulp, these unwieldy materials are traced into drawn structures that like viruses they can live in different phases, their form determined by the presence of water. Passive in the dry confines of the exhibition space they mutate if activated by water.
Jo Milne will be continuing this line of investigation developing a series of paper sculptures in the fall at the Museu Molí Paperer de Capellades, and in her consideration of metabolic pathways at the Parc Científic de Barcelona, where she will be artist in residence from September to December.
Check our her exhibition at the Blue Lotus Foundation here.