Heather Dewey-Hagborg is one of the most creative people and orthogonal thinkers I have ever had the pleasure to know.
I first met and learned of Heather’s work at the Contemporary Museum of Art in Chicago where she presented as a co-founder and co-curator of REFRESH, an inclusive and politically engaged collaborative platform at the intersection of art, science, and technology.
I love the famous quote Refresh uses from the Guerilla Girls as to the History of Invisibility of women artists: “Do women have to be naked to get into the Metropolitan Museum?” That was almost 30 years ago, and it seems not much has changed, as she notes: “…the statistics in 2016 confirmed that more than 90% of winners of a major festival in the arts self-identified as male, and only two out of the 100 top selling artists at auction are women. The difference in price between the most expensive female and male artists is also vast; $44.4 million vs. $179 million. Women have been largely excluded from history, criticism, and curation of major art historical movements, even when they participate in great numbers as in the case of Abstract Expressionism.” Refresh is helping turn the tide.
Heather has a BA from Bennington College, a Master of Professional Studies in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University, and a PhD in Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Heather’s work has been shown internationally at events and venues including the World Economic Forum, the Shenzhen Urbanism and Architecture Biennale, and PS1 MOMA, and her work is held in public collections of the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the New York Historical Society. Heather and her work have been widely discussed in the media, from the New York Times and the BBC to Art Forum, TED and Wired. She has won a number of grants, residencies, and awards for her work.
She is a former Assistant Professor of Art and Technology Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Bio-Design at Parsons, the New School, an artist fellow at A.I. Now, and an affiliate of Data & Society. She is also a co-founder and co-curator of REFRESH, an inclusive and politically engaged collaborative platform at the intersection of Art, Science, and Technology.
Heather got into DNA Phenotyping that resulted her controversial project Stranger Visions, which allowed her to bring awareness to forensic DNA phenotyping and her concern that it could be the next version of racial profiling, which she addressed in “Sci-Fi Crime Drama with a Strong Black Lead” vis-à-vis the use and misuse of DNA data.
Heather also worked with whistle blower, Chelsea Manning which resulted in the work, Probably Chelsea, which is an amazing odyssey and outcome. This was followed by a solo-exhibition Genomic Intimacy and her most recent project T3511.
Our conversation in this episode is wide ranging, as is her work. There are too few people in the world today like Heather, which is a shame, and is why I am so happy to have had such a wonderful time talking with her and being able to share it with you.
It is one thing to read about Heather and her work herein, it’s another to hear her story and thought process via our podcast conversation, but I strongly encourage you to visit her work in person or online via the links below. You won’t be disappointed.