Bio artists Emma van der Leest and Aneta Schaap-Oziemlak (duo), Jon Ho and Michael Sedbon were named the winners of the Bio Art & Design Award 2019 (BAD Award) on Thursday June 13. During the finale, eleven international teams of artists and scientists pitched their bio art project ideas. An independent expertjury, led by jury chairman William Myers, has chosen these three projects as winners, who will each receive a prize of €25,000 to realize their bio art project. The three artworks will then be exhibited from November 29, 2019 at MU in Eindhoven.


The award ceremony took place during the Border Sessions festival in The Hague, where the eleven teams presented their project ideas during the festival night of the four-day event. The reactions from both the jury as well as the audience were full of praise. William Myers, chairman of the international expert jury, was impressed by the submissions: “This year we had a diverse mix of ideas in the proposals, the quality of which made selecting winners difficult. Overall, they show that these kind of collaborations embrace recent research in the life sciences while pushing its boundaries. The BAD Award is among the first such awards where collaboration is central. We are proud that we can show that the fusion of creativity and research can build community while fostering deeper and better discussions about the impact of the sciences on culture.”

From bacterial culture to leather and gender fluidity 

The duo Emma van der Leest and Aneta Schaap-Oziemlak investigate the wide spectrum of properties of fungi, such as dyes and texture, and how these can be applied to improve qualities of biofabricated products. This has led to a cellulose-based ‘leather’, produced by microorganisms. In this collaboration they develop a waterproof fungi-derived biocoating to improve functional design of ‘leather’. They will realize the project in collaboration with researchers from the Center of Expertise in Mycology (Radboudumc/CWZ). 

Artist Jon Ho looks at sexual fluidity from a new perspective. Recent medical advances, combined with the increased use of gender-fluid identities in popular culture, enable the modern human to envision a reality that extends beyond the traditional confines of one’s biological sex. He dives deeper into this and aims to build an immersive installation chronicling the complex and transgressive capabilities of hermaphroditic fluidity. He will do this in collaboration with the Department of Ecological Science (DES) at VU Amsterdam.

Michael Sedbon explores the era that will be marked by the agency of everything non-human: from selforganizing urban infrastructure to ubiquitous politically driven digital networks. This raises new questions: will this act as a catalyst of already existing tensions or allow for totally new distributions of power? In an experimental setup he highlights both the hopes and issues through an artificial ecosystem comprised of photosynthetic bacterial culture sharing light resources. Governance of this resources is executed by a constantly refining algorithm. Like so, the photosynthetic cells and the computer are experimenting with different political systems granting access to this life necessary resource. Sedbon collaborates with the Biophysics of Photosynthesis research group at the VU Amsterdam. 

The jury about the winners

See the attachment for the jury's laudations about the three winners of the BAD Award 2019 (English).

About the BAD Award

The Bio Art & Design Award (BAD Award) is a unique competition for artists and researchers who push the boundaries of art and science with biotechnological projects. Since 2010, the BAD Award has encouraged young artists and scientists to explore the world of bioart and design. With the support of renowned Dutch scientists, they create new work in which life sciences and art merge. The Bio Art & Design Award is a product of collaboration between ZonMw (Medical Research Council, The Hague), MU Artspace (Eindhoven) and BioArt Laboratories (Eindhoven).

More information

Photo: Wouter Vellekoop

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