Arts at CERN celebrates its 10th anniversary
The celebrations kick off with the launch of a podcast series that brings artists and scientists into conversation.
For the past decade, Arts at CERN has fostered the dialogue between art and physics through art residencies, commissions and exhibitions. Artists across all creative disciplines have been invited to CERN to experience how the big questions about our universe are pursued by fundamental science.
Since its foundation in 1954, CERN has been a place of inspiration to many artists. Before the arts programme was officially launched, several highly regarded artists visited the Laboratory, drawn to physics and fundamental science. As early as 1972, James Lee Byars was the first artist to visit the Laboratory and the only one, so far, to feature on the cover of the CERN Courier. Mariko Mori, Gianni Motti, Cerith Wyn Evans, John Berger and Anselm Kiefer are among the artists who came to CERN in the following years.
In 2022 we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first art residency organised by Arts at CERN and the beginning of the programme’s activities. More than 200 artists have participated in the residencies, benefiting from the involvement of 400 scientists. Around 600 applications from 80 different countries are received every year. Over 20 new artworks have been commissioned since the residency programme began, and numerous education and outreach events take place every year.
The celebration of the 10th anniversary begins with the launch of the Arts at CERN podcast series. In each of the six episodes, one artist and one scientist will explore a theme that has inspired their artistic practice and scientific research, respectively. Together, the podcast guests will reflect on the artist’s residency and the creative encounters it facilitated within the vibrant CERN community. The six themes selected for the anniversary podcast series are time, the invisible, nature, broken symmetries, extra dimensions and black holes. The first episode will feature the work of the first artist in residence, Julius von Bismarck, who arrived at CERN in early 2012. He explores the topic of “extra dimensions” in conversation with physicist Michael Doser. Both are introduced by Mónica Bello, curator and head of Arts at CERN, and Ana Prendes, content producer of Arts at CERN. In the following episodes, scientists John Ellis, Alessandra Gnecchi, Dorota Grabowska, Helga Timko and Tamara Vázquez-Schroeder converse with artists Rasheedah Phillips, Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt (Semiconductor), SU Wen-Chi, Suzanne Treister and Rosa Menkman. At the end of 2022, the anniversary celebrations will culminate in the publication of a collection of essays by artists, scientists and authors. This publication will be the fruit of Arts at CERN’s goal to inspire significant exchanges between art and physics and to participate in an international cultural community eager to connect with CERN.
The anniversary marks ten years since the first artistic residency at CERN in spring 2012. However, CERN has had a history of welcoming artists to its premises since the Lab’s foundation. A non-comprehensive timeline of the history of arts engagement at CERN follows.
The American performance artist James Lee Byars features on the cover of the CERN Courier, September 1972.
Signatures of the Invisible is announced as a unique collaboration between contemporary artists and physicists, jointly organised by the London Institute and CERN. Anish Kapoor, Patrick Hughes and Bartolomeu dos Santos are among the group of artists. The exhibition tours around various museums from 2001 to 2003, finishing its travels at MoMA in New York.
“Feeling Material” by Antony Gormley is installed in CERN’s Main Building.
Director-General Rolf Heuer accepts cultural expert Ariane Koek’s proposal to work out how to establish an artist residency scheme for CERN.
CERN launches its first-ever Cultural Policy, together with the CERN Cultural Board, which will provide advice on matters relating to cultural projects and collaborations involving CERN. On launching the Cultural Policy, Director-General Rolf Heuer affirms that “the arts and science are inextricably linked; both are ways of exploring our existence, what it is to be human and what is our place in the universe”.
The Collide residency is announced, in collaboration with Ars Electronica, based in Linz, Austria. Julius von Bismarck is selected by an international jury to be the first artist in residence.
CERN signs a collaboration agreement with Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council, and with the Republic and Canton of Geneva and the City of Geneva, to launch two strands of Collide for Swiss and Geneva artists.
Quantum, a fusion of dance and lighting installation developed by choreographer Gilles Jobin and Julius von Bismarck, debuts in the CMS cavern during CERN’s Open Days.
The first Accelerate residency takes place, in collaboration with the Onassis Foundation. In the years that follow, Accelerate will invite artists from Croatia, Finland, Lithuania, South Korea, Switzerland, and Taiwan to take part in this programme.
Mónica Bello takes on the position of curator and head of Arts at CERN, following Ariane Koek’s departure. Bello’s first goal is to consolidate the residencies programme within the existing structure, and to advance the programme in new areas, moving beyond exploration and artistic research to develop new art commissions and exhibitions.
A new three-year collaboration with FACT Liverpool is announced in the context of Collide. Following a stint at CERN, artists will spend one month in residency at FACT, where they will be connected to research groups led by Tara Shears at Liverpool University.
CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti is as committed to the Laboratory’s link with the arts as her predecessor and makes her views on the “two cultures” clear on an international platform at the World Economic Forum in Davos: “Too often people put science and humanities, or science and the arts, in different compartments, but they do have much in common. They are the highest expression of the creativity and the curiosity of humanity.”
To support the production of the artworks conceived in the context of CERN’s artistic residencies, CERN and FACT bring together several important European cultural organisations to form the ScANNER (Science and Art Network for New Exhibitions and Research) collaboration, which aims to support new art commissions and the presentation of projects developed during the residencies. The founding members are CCCB (Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona), iMAL (Interactive Media Art Laboratory, Brussels) and Le Lieu Unique (Nantes).
Mónica Bello is invited to serve as curator for the prestigious Audemars Piguet Art Commission for Art Basel, funded by the Swiss watchmaking brand. The British artist-duo Semiconductor is invited to create a new work, inspired by and in collaboration with ATLAS scientists.
Collide takes place again, with a third partner city. Barcelona City Council and the Barcelona Institute of Culture sign a three-year agreement with CERN to foster dialogues between art and physics.
Supported by the ScANNER collaboration, a major exhibition entitled Quantum/Broken Symmetries goes on tour from 2018 to 2020, reaching over 100 000 visitors in four European cities – Liverpool, Barcelona, Brussels and Vilnius – and in Taipei, Taiwan.
The Primat Foundation begins a three-year partnership to support CERN’s art commissions scheme. The artists invited to create new artworks are Mariele Neudecker, Richard Mosse and Tania Candiani.
A new CERN Cultural Board is announced and the first preparations for the tenth anniversary of Arts at CERN are made, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London hosts two artworks and a school event inspired by CERN. 5000 students and teachers from 114 schools all over the world attend the virtual event.
The Connect residency award, a new programme that promotes connections between CERN and scientific institutions in South Africa, India, Chile and Brazil, is launched in partnership with Pro Helvetia.
Arts at CERN and the Exhibitions team co-curate the art exhibition for the opening of Science Gateway, with four new art commissions by former CERN artists in residence.