New Exhibition Explores the Connections Between the Human Brain and Intestines – University of Copenhagen

Health > News > 2017 > New Exhibition Explore...

05 October 2017

New Exhibition Explores the Connections Between the Human Brain and Intestines


The new exhibition Mind the Gut at Medical Museion, which opens on 7 October, focuses on the human brain and gut. In the restored basement below the museum the exhibition explores the complex connections between the human mind and intestines via a thought-provoking combination of science, art and history.

Brain, gut feeling, identity, intestines, bacteria, microbiomes. They are all connected in the new exhibition Mind the Gut at Medical Museion, which opens on Saturday. Through science, cultural history and art the exhibition explores the connections between the human brain and intestines and plays with our understanding of body and identity. The exhibition is housed in the beautiful, newly restored basement, which now opens to the public for the first time.

The exhibition shows how doctors, researchers, patients and artists over the years have tried to understand and process the complex relation between head and gut. A puzzle that has preoccupied us for centuries and still provides food for scientific experiments, lifestyle trends and fierce health debates.

’Mind the Gut is a creative and experimental room, which will open up for discussion and articulate an important topic that is currently attracting great attention among researchers and the general public. We are challenging the traditional understanding of the brain and intestines as two isolated organs and instead open up for a new view of the body as a network of complex, interconnected systems. In other words, we are trying to make our visitors curious about their own understanding of the body and to leave here with a lot of new perspectives’, says Curator Adam Bencard from Medical Museion. He is one of the prime movers behind the new exhibition.

Pill Machine, Yoghurt Room and Faeces Transplantation
Mind the Gut consists of nine, thematically divided stories communicating different actions on the body – from our origins as intestines to a view into the body via Artist Naja Ryde Ankarfeldt’s interactive piece Landscape Epithelia. At the same time, the exhibition plays on our historical fascination with intestinal bacteria, which e.g. is articulated through the story of Nobel Prize Winner Ilya Mechnikov and a yoghurt room on Strøget (the main shopping street in Copenhagen) from 1909. Through her work ‘Kathy as Bowie’ the American artist Kathy High challenges the idea that bacteria give us a unique identity, when she tries to make the late David Bowie donate his faeces to her. In a special installation, which takes the form of a pill machine, the artist Mogens Jacobsen in cooperation with the curator group toys with ideas of diagnosing and medication. Following a mechanical Q&A session the visitor receives a pill.

’We focus on the universally human aspect of dealing with what it is like to have a body. We also make room for the researcher who strives to understand the body’s many systems and to the patients who tries to treat himself through his diet. We want to break with the idea that science, as if by magic, can change our condition, and we do not offer diet advice for gaining a better intestinal flora. Instead we use art, research and cultural history to critically reflect on how the close connection between head and gut affects our understanding of ourselves as humans’, says Associate Professor Louise Whiteley from Medical Museion, who is another of the prime movers behind the exhibition.

Medical Museion is part of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. Mind the Gut is a collaboration between three artists, two researchers, an architect, a graphic designer and the curator group. The exhibition is created by Medical Museion and the Section for Science Communication at the Metabolism Center. The five co-curators are artists Mogens Jacobsen, Naja Ryde Ankarfeldt and Guston Sondin-Kung and researchers Marie Balslev Backe and Christian Bache Billesbølle.

Mind the Gut has won the Bikuben Foundation’s Exhibition Award Vision 2015 for visionary exhibition concepts. Two of the exhibition elements are funded by the Danish Arts Foundation.

Curator Adam Bencard
Phone: +45 27 51 15 53

Researcher Louise Whiteley
Phone: +45 21 12 67 12