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Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona presents Brain(s)

27 July — 11 December 2022

The human brain is the most complex object we are aware of and the one that both science and philosophy have the most questions about. The exhibition “Brain(s)” examines how this intriguing organ has been researched and portrayed throughout history in art, science, and philosophy.

Both the anatomy of the brain and all it produces, including awareness, abstract thought, language, imagination, dreams, and memory, are examined in this exhibition. Beyond human minds, “Brain(s)” also looks into artificial, animal, and collective intelligence, as well as brainless animals.

Why are there brains? What causes consciousness to exist? What about originality? What occurs when a mental illness strikes? Is it feasible to build intelligent machines? What can we infer about human intellect from the intelligence of ants? By examining the rich terrain of cognition and its historical history, from natural systems to systems made by humans, “Brain(s)” tackles these questions as well as many more. The exhibition poses open-ended questions to visitors while embarking on a journey that blends historical, scientific, and artistic materials. It also challenges our conception of conscious experience and explores what can occur when it is shattered or impaired.

Ricard Solé, a physicist and biologist, and Emily Sargent, curator of the Wellcome Collection, curated the show, which features 300 items, including 17 audiovisual and immersive art pieces from today, items from historical collections, and the findings of brain research initiatives.

The exhibition combines the visions of contemporary artists such as Tomás Saraceno, Patrick Tresset, Ivana Franke, Daniel Alexander, Andrew Carnie, Christian Fogarolli, Greg Dunn, Laramascoto, Louise K Wilson, William Utermohlen, Shona Illingworth, Imogen Stidworthy, Joaquim Jordà, Aya Ben Ron, Roc Parés, Joan Fontcuberta, Stefan Kaegi and Xavi Bou, and comics and films. It also includes historical material such as original drawings by Santiago Ramon y Cajal, period editions of Vesalius and René Descartes, the inventions and machinery of visionary scientists such as Leonardo Torres Quevedo and Lady Ada Lovelace, and scientific projects of leading scientific research institutes.

The “Brain(s)” project involves a wide-ranging network of scholars, artists, and thinkers in both the exhibition and the creation of an activity schedule that includes a series of films, open forums, and mediation workshops.

In addition, a selection of films related to the exhibition can be viewed on the Brain(s) channel on Filmin (available from 26 July to 11 December).

The CCCB’s exhibition draws on two independent shows, “Brains: The Mind as Matter” (2012) and “States of Mind: Tracing the Edges of Consciousness” (2016), held at London’s Wellcome Collection, co-producer of Brain(s) with the CCCB and Fundación Telefónica (Madrid).

Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona