Curating the Science Gallery London

BY Alice Koltchev

“Once I started working in the world of science,” reflects Hannah Redler-Hawes, curator of The Science Gallery London’s current exhibit, “I became completely absorbed and fascinated by it.” After graduating with an arts degree in the 1990s, Redler-Hawes teamed up with some friends to create a digital media company, swiftly connecting her with “artists working with software, which I didn’t know anything about in any of my arts education at the time.” “I found this fascinating,” remembers Redler-Hawes, and her career quickly migrated to museums: specifically, the Science Museum, where she expanded her artistic scope to encompass climate change, biomedical sciences, energy, and digital arts.

“Look on me and be renewed” by Matt King with Professor John Marsden and Changing 7 at Science Gallery London

As someone coming from a “biased” arts education, Redler-Hawes has become dedicated to her “dream place, an interdisciplinary between arts and science.” Redler-Hawes, who is also Head of Arts Programme at the London Science Museum and has worked to create exhibits with the Open Data Institute, Tate Modern, Natural History Museum, and others, says the physical space inhabited by the Science Gallery London is a “beautiful mishmash of the building, reclaiming the space, that’s now a public area that people now come to gather; hundreds of people joining up here, which is a real gift.”

The gallery’s inaugural exhibit, entitled ‘HOOKED: When Want Becomes Need,” brings to light addictions experienced by the vast majority of the population: sugar, smartphones, advertising, and social media, as well as the more ‘classical’ addictions like alcoholism, and the ultimate effects of addictions on daily life.

The gallery has worked very closely with King’s College London: Redler-Hawes was referred to experts on addiction at King’s, who would then “introduce [her] to other colleagues, making it quite a big group effort.”“There’s no piece of art that deals directly with any specific addiction in the gallery,” Redler-Hawes explains. Each highly specific theme, such as food or sex addiction, is addressed in a series of events. In collecting and commissioning pieces for the ex hibit, Redler-Hawes aimed to “tell stories, ask open-ended questions” rather than dictate a specific message. “Anything with addiction is not a result of devi ating from society,” concludes Redler-Hawes. “It’s very much a part of being in society.” 

Photography by Kit Komarov

“Sugar Rush” by Atelier 010, part of Natural Born Thrillers section, echoing society’s revolution around things that fail.

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