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Dr. Heather Dewey-Hagborg is a transdisciplinary artist and educator who is interested in art as research and critical practice.


Stranger Visions


Found genetic materials, custom software, 3D prints, documentation

Portrait dimensions: 8"h x 6"w x 6"d; overall dimensions variable

Edition AP (of 3 + 2AP)

"In Stranger Visions I collected hairs, chewed up gum, and cigarette butts from the streets, public bathrooms and waiting rooms of New York City. I extracted DNA from them and analyzed it to computationally generate 3d printed life size full color portraits representing what those individuals might look like, based on genomic research. Working with the traces strangers unwittingly left behind, the project was meant to call attention to the developing technology of forensic DNA phenotyping, the potential for a culture of biological surveillance, and the impulse towards genetic determinism."

Probably Chelsea consists of thirty different possible portraits of Chelsea Manning algorithmically-generated by an analysis of her DNA. Genomic data can tell a multitude of different stories about who and what you are. Probably Chelsea shows just how many ways your DNA can be interpreted as data, and how subjective the act of reading DNA really is. 


Probably Chelsea


Genetic materials, custom software, 3D prints

Dimensions Variable. Thirty possible portraits generated algorithmically from Chelsea E. Manning's DNA.

Each portrait 8"h x 6"w x 6"d. Overall dimensions variable

Edition 2 of 3

2 Probably Chelsea, Heather Dewey-Hagbor

Chelsea Manning is the whistleblower who exposed some of the U.S. government's worst abuses and is currently serving a 35-year sentence in military prison for convictions related to those exposures. She is a transgender woman and Guardian columnist and a leader in the movements for transgender justice and government accountability.

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Radical Love


Genetic materials, custom software, 3D prints generated

from Chelsea E. Manning's DNA.

Each portrait 8"h x 6"w x 6"d. 

Edition of 3 + 1 AP, 3/3

Incarcerated since her gender transition, and rendered invisible to the public due to the prohibitive policy on visitors, no one except her family, old friends, and lawyers, has actually seen Chelsea Manning. In addition to calling attention to Chelsea Manning’s erasure from the public eye, the artwork highlights the forensic conflation of gender and assigned sex at birth, presenting a diptych of portraits to represent Chelsea, one with an algorithmically neutral gender, and the other assigned female. The exhibition of both these possible faces side by side draws attention to the problem of utilizing chromosomes or birth assigned sex to assign gender as well as a larger issue of what it means to rely on stereotyped ideas of what a gendered face is "supposed" to look like.

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Spirit Molecule is a series of experiments that imagine a future of biotechnologized mourning. The artist used a process called transgenesis to infuse a lost loved one’s DNA into a psychoactive plant that is meant to be consumed in a final journey of intimacy with the other.


Spirit Molecule III


Genetic materials, psychoactive plants, greenhouse installation, single channel film
Dimensions variable

Lovesick, a literal love virus, is the outcome of the artist's residency with Integral Molecular, a vaccine and drug discovery company based in Philadelphia. Together they invented a custom retrovirus, which infects human cells with a gene that increases the production of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for empathy and bonding.⁣

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Jurkcat cells brightfield 100x magnifica
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Custom retrovirus, glass, two-channel video, music arranged by the artist
Dimensions variable
Edition 1 of 3

The installation consists of the vials of glowing virus, video of the microscopic cells expressing their infection, and a piece of music based on a 14th century ballad by Francesco Landini that tells the story of a woman struggling with a love that is in vain. I have re-written the song to list instead the letters representing the proteins contained in the oxytocin molecule.

" I imagine a lovesick future in which individuals, couples, and groups consume this virus by smashing open the glass vials, pouring the fluid into their mouths, incubating it there for several seconds, then swallowing, while chanting together, or humming to themselves, 'CYIQNCPL'."

Jurkat cells brightfield 40x magnificati

Jurkat Cells Brightfield 40x Magnification and Eyepiece Lens


Archival pigment print mounted on dibond

36" h x 24" w 

Edition 2 of 5

HEK293 Producer Cells Expressing RFP 400

HEK293 Producer Cells Expressing RFP 400x Magnification Microscope Station


Archival pigment print mounted on dibond

24"h x 36"w

Edition 1 of 5

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How do you see me?

2-channel video installation
6:03 minutes


Exhibition catalogs

At the Temperature of My Body

June 26 – August 9, 2019

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Download the exhibition catalogue, which features 

essays by Joel Kuennen and Heather Dewey-Hagborg

A Becoming Resemblance

August 2 – September 5, 2017

Curated by Roddy Schrock

Download the exhibition catalogue, which features

essays by Roddy Schrock, Heather Dewey-Hagborg,

and Dorothy R. Santos

More on Heather Dewey-Hagborg

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