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FOXP2 (Mutation)

FOXP2 (Mutation), 2016 - Marguerite Humeau

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about this work

FOXP2 (Mutation) developed from Humeau's recent project based on re-enacting the moment when a gene – FOXP2 – mutated, allowing our ancestors to develop language.

about Marguerite Humeau

°1986 (FR) – lives and works in London (UK)

Marguerite Humeau has described herself as an “Indiana Jones in Google times.” Her research-based work grows out of collaborations with scientists and other experts, reflecting on existential questions such as what it means to exist.

Her most recent touring solo exhibition FOXP2, grew out of conversations with zoologists. One sound installation takes the form of a “choir” of 108 billion voices, re-enacting the moment when a gene – FOXP2 – mutated, allowing our ancestors to develop language. This leads on to what Humeau calls a “biological showroom” of elephants, engaged in an elaborate mourning ritual. The installations take us back to the origins of life, while also imagining a future without humans. 

Her project for Manifesta started from the idea that love is an evolutionary function. Based on her research in zoology, biology and paleontology, Mathias Bürki and his fellow experts in autonomous systems programmed two robot-like creatures designed by the artist, which twirled around ETH Zürich. They try to get together through a fog of anti-love drugs, squirting out ersatz love hormones and emitting mating calls from their mechanical throats. This ancient dance of courtship points to the near future, where artificial intelligence calls into question attributes hitherto thought to be distinctly human.

Marguerite Humeau had solo exhibitions at Nottingham Contemporary and Palais de Toyko, Paris; and group exhibitions at Manifesta, Zurich; Serpentine Gallery, London; Hayward Gallery, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and MoMA, New York. The work of Humeau is also part of the collection of MoMA, New York.

Marguerite Humeau is represented by the following galleries;
click through to discover more of her work.

Duve, Berlin  

C L E A R I N G, Brussels / New York  

You can also discover more of Marguerite Humeau’s work on her own website

Learn more about this artist