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Exhibition: ‘Outwitting Cancer – Making Sense of Nature’s Enigma’ at the Crick Institute London

Text by CLOT Magazine

Breast cancer cells, Electron Microscopy STP, Francis Crick Institute.

Outwitting Cancer: Making Sense of Nature’s Enigma is a free exhibition that opened on 25 September 2021 and will run until 15 July 2022 at The Francis Crick Institute. This is the fifth exhibition at the Crick Institute, delayed from 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Crick is Europe’s single largest biomedical research institute, breaking down barriers between departments and disciplines. As a result, the Crick is accelerating the discovery of fundamental biological processes behind human health and disease. Alongside the research institute, the Crick hosts an exhibition space, which has fostered scientists and artists exchanges since its inception.

The current exhibition, which explores the challenges of cancer disease, includes an immersive video installation in a custom-built cinema designed by Studio Prelude and associates, projection mapping and film direction by SDNA, alongside a newly commissioned soundscape composed by Mira Calix.

Cancer remains one of the world’s most widespread and deadly diseases, with 1 in 2 of us developing cancer in our lifetime.  Through the immersive films and accompanying Crick labs produced microscopy imagery, Outwitting Cancer addresses universal questions such as “what is cancer?” and “why are so many people still dying from cancer?”.   

It also presents a fluid interplay between journalists, artists, filmmakers, scientists, and clinicians involved in different aspects of oncology research.

Paul Nurse, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, comments that Unraveling the mysteries of human biology and using this to develop new ways to tackle diseases like cancer is at the heart of the work at the Crick. For example, they have discovered how cancers evolve and new approaches to treating cancer over recent years. Nurse also thinks the exhibition will bring to life our researchers’ journey to understand how cancer starts, spreads and responds to therapy.

As presenting humans with one of the fundamental challenges, cancer has also been an exploration topic for artists. The exhibition’s curator Yasmin Khan explains that Outwitting Cancer is about the power and potential of cancer research. The show will get into the minds of the brilliant scientists working at the forefront of biological research.  It will seek to dispel confusion through an immersive digital exploration of the complexity of cancer, opening up new conversations around the disease and its future.

Cancer has existed for as long as humans (or life, we could say) have existed. Even its appearance it’s almost inherent to the basic bricks of life itself, each day getting closer to understanding its mechanisms further. So outwitting cancer is an excellent way to feel closer to those who work at the forefront of this research.

Alongside the exhibition, there is a parallel programme of events and talks and an in-depth digital experience with additional exhibition content.

(Image courtesy of The Crick Institute)
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