Esther Teichmann and Christopher Stewart
Constellations is an experimental film and online publication by artists Esther Teichmann and Christopher Stewart. The montage film draws upon surrealist layering and juxtapositions of fragments to explore the intertwining narratives of the Human Cell Atlas. A string quartet score composed by Deirdre Gribbin leads us through filmed and CGI visuals layered with archive footage from the Wellcome Collection. We move from the cosmic to the cellular, from flesh to data to the unknown of discovery and birth.
The film is presented together and in dialogue with commissioned writing; In Media Res: Three Generative Objects for the HCA by Boris Jardine, historically contextualizing the Human Cell Atlas, All That We Are, a short story by Esther Teichmann, Before the Moon Shattered and Shone Again by composer Deirdre Gribbin, Perfectum, a poem on gestation and loss by artist Sofie Layton, Discovery and the Genetic Unknown by scientific sociologist Jenny Bangham, From Cell to Cosmos, extracts written by midwives, doulas and scientists from a series of creative writing workshops run by the artists, On Constellations or Seeing Stars, an exploration of the shift in the representation of pregnancy and the female body with the advent of artists entering the medical space by art historian Gemma Blackshaw, Notes on the Unfolding Flesh on editing and montage by Geistė Marija Kinčinaitytė, and Towards Wholeness – A World in Pieces by Christopher Stewart.
Christopher Stewart is an artist exploring themes of surveillance, the invisible, secrecy and power. Stewart’s work has been exhibited widely including at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art in Norwich, The National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford, Open Eye in Liverpool and Fotomuseum in Winterthur, Switzerland, with work held in public and private collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Martin Z. Margulies collection, Miami. Writing and curatorial research projects are also central to Christopher’s practice. He completed an MA at the Royal College of Art and a PhD in the Faculty of Art & Design at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
Esther Teichmann is an artist exploring relationships between the maternal, loss, desire and the imaginary. Recent solo museum shows include Heavy the Sea, Transformer Station, Cleveland and Mondschwimmen, Reiss-Engelhorn Museum, Mannheim. Collaborations include Phantasie Fotostudio II with Monster Chetwynd at John Hansard Gallery, and the co-curation and editing of the exhibition and book, Staging Disorder, with artist Christopher Stewart. Her work is held in public and private collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Teichmann received an MA and PhD in Fine Art from the Royal College of Art (RCA) and is Head of Programme of the Master of Research at the RCA.
Directed by Esther Teichmann and Christopher Stewart
Score composed by Deirdre Gribbin
Performed by The Benyounes Quartet
Edited by Geiste Kincinaityte
CGI visualizations by Liam Sielski Waters
Dancer – Sophia Wang
Baby (newborn and infant) – Ada Virginia Teichmann Stewart
Wellcome archive footage:
Your children’s eyes, 1945, Wellcome Collection.
Gestation of ovum, 1924, Wellcome Collection.
Management of a normal birth in a continental clinic. Part 3, Stage of expulsion, 1926, Wellcome Collection.
The online platform was designed and developed in collaboration with multidisciplinary creative studio HATO.
With additional thanks to our Human Cell Atlas scientific advisors, curator and project producers and creative writing workshop participants, Sarah Teichmann, Aviv Regev, Muzlifah Haniffa, Krishnaa Mahbubani, Suzy O’Hara, Paul Gibson, Meghan Lambert, Flo Awichi, Giovanni Biglino, Issy Bourton, Emma Dann, Alexa Dean, Rachel Elf, Laura Godfrey-Isaacs, Elo Madissoon and Ian Simcock.