culture/nature/structure

Meghan Moe Beitiks
a lab for apologies and forgiveness

A Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness / Candor Arts (2021)

A Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness is a collaborative publication with Candor Arts, one of the last publications from this important small-scale Chicago-based publisher, and a documentation of what was for me an epic project.

Only 100 copies made, on sale March-September 1, 2021 only.

From the Candor Arts Website:

A Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness documents a multifaceted artwork inspired by the bacteria Geobacter sulfurreducens, which reduces radioactive uranium to a non-water-soluble isotope. When I first heard about the bacteria, it opened up an avenue of hope in me. It engages with, and limits, a substance that is otherwise toxic for 10,000 years, and prevents it from doing further harm. Over the works’ six different versions, I worked together with microbiologists, Episcopalian parishioners, several artists, a variety of materials, and the bacteria itself.

The Lab accumulated as a series of installations, performances, videos, written works, and feelings. This book is documentation of it in pictures and scripts, reflections on it from folks who witnessed it firsthand, and a raw look into its development and impact from the pages of my Lab book (initially a gift from the Franks Lab for Applied and Environmental Microbiology at LaTrobe University). I draw conclusions from my research, face down personal and scientific failures and reconciliations, open up questions for further experimentation.

Includes contributions from Dr. Ashley Franks, Sarah Knudtson, Laura Caroline de Lara, Tarsh Bates, Dr. Lucie Semenec, Dr. Jennifer Wood, Arjuna Capulong, Lauren Goldstein and Emerson Granillo.

Some things are not remediable. It’s okay.

Perfect Bound book with inkjet printed cover. Black toner printed pages on two papers.

Design: Melanie Teresa Bohrer
Production: Candor Arts

ISBN: 978-1-950615-05-6

A Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness v.5 (2014)

Lab v

In Version 5 of the Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness, I built a gassing station for a uranium-reducing bacteria in the SymbioticA Centre for Excellence in Bio Art at the University of Western Australia, and crafted a performance for it using documentation of– and soil from– a Montebello Islands nuclear test site. I interviewed scientists from LaTrobe University working with the bacteria and asked them to re-perform moments from a movie referencing cold fusion. Within the scope of the work, I seek to draw connections between history, site, emotion, popular culture, and scientific research. UPDATE: one of the test tubes gassed during this performance, containing soil from Montebello Islands, led to the study of a new bacterial community at LaTrobe University. The new strain is called “LuMoe,” for Lucie Semenec and Moe Beitiks. Jennifer Woods at the Franks Lab at LaTrobe University is shepherding its research.


Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness v.4 (2014)

LFAF WorkshopI conducted a workshop version of Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness, culminating in a live performance, with the parishioners and community of the All Saints Episcopalian Church in Saugatuck, Michigan. The workshop was two weeks, and explored the grounds of the church retreat house as a site for Apologies and Forgiveness. Marissa Lee Benedict, Dulcee Bohem and Sarah Knutdson were also kind enough to come out and engage in discussion salons of their work as pertains to the environment.

Here’s a radio interview I gave with Father Cory Stoppel on Holland, Michigan’s “Talk of the Town” about the process.

Thanks to Cheryl, Kathy, Rocky, Persis and Caitlin. Video footage by Lucia Earle.

A Lab For Apologies and Forgiveness v. 4: All Saints’ Episcopal Church from Meghan Moe Beitiks on Vimeo.

Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness v.3 (2013)

 

Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness v.3 from Meghan Moe Beitiks on Vimeo.


“A Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness” is an ongoing work in which I perform within a multimedia workspace, creating dialogues between uranium-reducing bacteria, accidents within the Manhattan Project, public apologies, the idea of safe distance, the words of a microbiologist, materials and cultural memes in an attempt to create a trans-human act.

In version 3, collaborator Sarah Knudtson and I ask members of an audience to stand in space according to a diagram of a Manhattan Project nuclear accident. While a clip depicting the accident from the film “Fat Man and Little Boy” plays, these participants are thrown spinach-seed infused seed bombs while Knudtson tapes out blast patterns on the floor. As Knudston sketches images pulled from Manhattan-Project research, I unpack site-specific ideas of safe distance, remediation and recovery. The audience is asked to read along with an interview of a scientist researching uranium-reducing bacteria and to breathe along to a clip of John Cusack. The performance is a half-hour long non-linear journey through the modern meanings of nuclear toxicity, error, our expanded implication and potential collective recovery.

A Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness v.2 / Act of Research v. 1 (2013)

 

Act of Research

Part of “A Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness,” An ongoing work in which I perform within a multimedia workspace, creating dialogues between uranium-reducing bacteria, accidents within the Manhattan Project, public apologies, the idea of safe distance, the words of a microbiologist, materials and cultural memes in an attempt to create a trans-human act.

“Act of Research v.1” is the creation of a benign bomb. Bomb creation is set to a scene from the 1989 film “Fat Man and Little Boy,” in which a nuclear accident is fictionalized. I appropriate imagery and presence from the film in an attempt to create, as Kris Lenz wrote in Fnews, “an alternative reality where art, science and drama meet at a crossroads. In this version, the outcome is not an ecological disaster that could take millions of years to remediate, but instead a conversation where awareness of environmental concerns and solutions are raised and disseminated.” photos by Arjuna Capulong.

A Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness v.1 (2012)

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An  installation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Sullivan Galleries, part of the 2012/3  “New Works” show.  Curated by Laura Caroline de Lara, Ann Meisinger, Gibran Villalobos and others. Included several video “Case Studies” embedded below, microbial fuel cells with soil from various sites, and a lab book for visitors to  write their own apologies or forgivings, or experiences with such. 


Case Studies in Apologies and Bacterial Landscapes