Children of Prometheus
Monsters have always defined the limits of community in Western imaginations.1
Humans have always exploited the raw materials this planet has to offer – with the power to change the nature of things, whether physical or virtual. With constant re-edits and enhancements we transform everything we touch as part of our evolutionary mutation. In Greek mythology Prometheus was a demigod and a Titan worshipped by craftsmen. Greek Titans were ultimately honoured as the ancestors of humans, who in turn were attributed with “the invention of the arts and magic“2. The artists featured in Children of Prometheus at the NeMe Arts Centre explore the possible consequences of our scientific and technological imaginings for us as individuals, our society and the world at large. The exhibition considers the roles of our arts and science traditions, and how they are played out while examining: governance, posthumanism, biohacking, and biopolitics.
“Nature builds no machines, no locomotives, railways, electric telegraphs, self-acting mules etc… They are organs of the human brain, created by human hand; the power of knowledge, objectified.“3
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein ranges across gender politics, political upheavals in her time, bio-politics, science, as well as psychological and social themes. Shelley was the daughter of two radical writers Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Godwin was one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement and most famous for two books published within one year: An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, an attack on political institutions, and Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, a novel that attacks aristocratic privilege, but also is the first mystery novel. Based on the success of these publications, Godwin was a prominent figure in the radical circles of London in the 1790s.
Mary Shelley’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft was a writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children’s book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason. Wollstonecraft died at the age of thirty-eight, ten days after giving birth to her second daughter, leaving behind several unfinished manuscripts.4
Mary Shelley’s publication, Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus published in 1818, was perhaps the earliest representation of science fiction but it was also a gothic novel. Shelley appropriated the various influences and sources available to her at the time. Her novel is an assemblage of discoveries in science and technology, societal change and political upheavals, mixed with personal interests. In the 19th Century the Romantic poets, artists and writers Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and William Wordsworth explored ideas grounded in their shared rejection of Christianity. Percy Shelley in 1811, declared his rejection of a greater all-powerful being in The Necessity of Atheism saying, “It is easier to suppose that the Universe has existed from all eternity, than to conceive a being capable of creating it.“5
Curator: Marc Garrett
Coordinator: Helene Black
Artistic Director: Yiannis Colakides
Photographs: Helene Black
Lynn Hershman Leeson (US), Anna Dumitriu (UK), Carla Gannis (US), Alan Sondheim (US), Gretta Louw (AU/DE), Joana Moll (ES) and Cedric Parizot (FR), Kypros Kyprianou (CY/UK), AOS (Salvatore Iaconesi & Oriana Persico) (IT), Mary Flanagan (US), Alexia Achilleos (CY) with Egor Chemokhonenko (RU/CY), Guido Segni (IT), Marinos Koutsomichalis (GR/CY).
Performance: Alan Sondheim and Azure Carter;
Presentations and discussion: Marc Garrett, Mary Flanagan, Alan Sondheim, Carla Gannis
- Donna Haraway. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Free Association Books, 1991. 180.
- Robert Graves. The Greek Myths. Penguin Books, 1955
- Karl Marx. Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy. Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (29 April 1993). Martin Nicolaus (Translator). 706.
Note: Written during the winter of 1857-8, the Grundrisse was considered by Marx to be the first scientific elaboration of communist theory. A collection of seven notebooks on capital and money, it both develops the arguments outlined in the Communist Manifesto (1848) and explores the themes and theses that were to dominate his great later work Capital. Here, for the first time, Marx set out his own version of Hegel's dialectics and developed his mature views on labour, surplus value and profit, offering many fresh insights into alienation, automation and the dangers of capitalist society. Yet while the theories in Grundrisse make it a vital precursor to Capital, it also provides invaluable descriptions of Marx's wider-ranging philosophy, making it a unique insight into his beliefs and hopes for the foundation of a communist state.
- Bertrand Russell. A History of Western Philosophy And Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. Chapter VI. The Rise of Science. Page 512. Allen & U.; New impression edition (Dec 1961).
- Percy Bysshe Shelley. The Necessity of Atheism. C. and W. Phillips in Worthing, 1811.
Main Funder: Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture
Videos: Sakari Laurila
Photographs: Helene Black
Thanks: Cleveland Adams, Yiannis Christides, Irenaeos Koullouras