A sterilized environment.
Medicine, Technology & Art
happen in white rooms:  



Donut Mitosis by Kevin Van Aelst.  
Photographs were desaturated to adhere to the PURE aesthetic.  

Examination by Sanna Sevanto
(Sculptures sit atop a cart of random objects)

Air Bubbles in Tissue Sample Slides
by L. Coren Hanley, MD


An Experiment  /  Exhibition
Lisa Lunskaya Gordon, Curator




PURE is a mixed media interactive exhibition / laboratory-- a collaborative effort of artists and performers exploring the concepts of Sterility and Contagion.

PURE deals with the increasing intersections within art, technology and medicine, beginning at the common environment where these disciplines exist: the sterile white space: an operating room, a clean room, an art gallery. Through the themes of sterility and its antethesis, PURE explores how societal ideals have been both enhanced and compromised by a trenchant belief in the promise of better living through scientific progress. That our PURE environment is staged in an abandoned big box store superimposes a commercial layer onto the project, prompting us to consider the question; Is contemporary art being sterilized?

• • •


The Experiment examines different perceptions of PURITY: Physical, Spiritual, Technological, Ideological, Artistic and the antithesis: CONTAGION: as virus, as meme.

PURE embraces the aesthetic of STERILITY: 1) the Operating Theater, 2) the Clean Room in high tech manufacturing and 3) the white box gallery.

1) Surgeons undergo a highly meticulous purification ritual. Upon entering the operating theater, protective masks are donned. These barriers prevent contagion from infecting the patient, but also protect the surgeon from potential contagion from the patient. 

2) PURE embraces the aesthetics of technology as well as technology itself in its quest to employ the most elegant (pure) solutions to technical problems. Technology is increasingly incorporating itself into the medical arena, so much so that it is becoming difficult to tell where the human and the technological elements begin and end, concepts which both delight and frighten us. It is the same situation with technology's influence on art.

3) Contemporary art is routinely displayed in museums and galleries which aspire to be "white boxes" - context free environments where artwork can be considered conceptually and visually without interruption or contamination from outside ideas. Because this display aesthetic has become the norm, it has paradoxically become its own context.

Upon entering the PURE exhibition, viewers must go through a purification ritual- much as a surgeon does before entering the operating room. The viewer becomes the physician exploring, discovering, diagnosing the different elements that make up PURE.

Unlike other white box art spaces the walls of PURE remain bare. The artwork huddles in the middle, a wide swath of empty space separating the pieces from the walls. Though the scale of the space is large, many of the works are small. Even when full, PURE is empty- minimal, forcing the viewer to come in closer—to examine and study the works more closely.

PURE questions whether art can be seen in a “pure” context. Within this “sterile” environment, art is mixed with artifact without adequate attribution. Artworks infect each other, seeking to challenge the rigid borders– the comfortable distance that physically separates individual pieces in most galleries or museums. The result is that in the process of assembling an exhibition of 73 artists, a group installation has been created from individual works and from intentionally or unintentionally placed random objects. This collaborative process between the artists is the backbone of PURE.

PURE is a loaded word. At once its varied connotations are positive and negative in the extreme. Consider spiritual purity. Consider racial purity. Consider a pure (clean) environment. A lake. A laboratory. A hospital-- a place of both healing and contagion.

PURE ART is White, Black, Metallic or Clear by design. Whether this “Purified” and desaturated aesthetic embodies minimalist sterility or constructed contagion becomes the question.

• • •

PURE’s location in Boston is very apropos with the announcement of plans to develop a number of high profile institutions dedicated to medical and scientific research. The exciting pace of scientific and medical discovery continues to revolutionize our lives. The artists in the exhibition explore how such advances have both enhanced and challenged our society and how we define ourselves within it.

The artists working in this collaborative effort are local, national and international. They are career artists, doctors, scientists, writers and technologists, a number are from Boston’s academic community. They are seasoned professionals, famous names, unknowns, art students, collectives, professors, and first time artists. Non traditional artistic media such as academic research, are presented as lectures as well as physical objects, incorporated into the physical collage of the collaboration.

PURE is pleased to host an exhibition-within-an-exhibition of relics from the Empire S.N.A.F.U. Restoration Project.

-Lisa Lunskaya Gordon, Curator
Fall, 2006


PURE Exists now as a Virtual Exhibition. Stage 1 occurred in October / November 2006 in Boston. PURE will be presented again in cities across the globe in collaboration with local artists. For details, contact the curator.