Productive fur, sentinel species and zombies: the 2020 BAD Award winners announced

On 2 July, Bio-artists Sissel Marie Tonn, Dasha Tsapenko and Nadine Botha were announced the winners of the Bio Art & Design Award 2020 (BAD Award). An international jury chaired by William Meyers selected these artists and designers from 12 teams of collaborating international artists, designers and scientists.


BAD Award expo at MU Hybrid Art House



11 December 2020 -
7 March 2021

Each of the winners receives a 25,000 Euro prize, to be spent on the realisation of their bio art project. The three BAD Award projects are executed in close collaboration with a Dutch research institute. The winning projects are:

Becoming a Sentinel Species
Sissel Marie Tonn, in collaboration with Heather Leslie (Department of Environment and Health, VU Amsterdam) and Juan Garcia Vallejo (Department Molecular Cell Biology & Immunology, Amsterdam UMC - location VUmc)

Sissel Marie Tonn investigates the issue of microplastics by re-introducing the concept of a sentinel species. An imaginary human guinea pig takes on the task of becoming a sentinel species by introducing microplastics in her blood. By activating old immunological alarm systems it recalls latent ancient memories of a common origin in the primordial sea. An immersive audiovisual installation invites the audience to connect with the fluid reality of their own bodies and, perhaps, to become sentinel species too.

Dasha Tsapenko, in collaboration with Han Wösten (Microbiology Research Group, UU Utrecht)

Dasha Tsapenko is developing a collection of garments for the future that introduces an alternative value system into the fashion industry by looking at agriculture for inspiration. Five coats show the five distinct cycles of our apparel and illustrate how the value of a specific piece increases with every cycle. With its speculative character, the project seeks to challenge the current linear consumption-oriented fashion system and the way we produce our food.

The Orders of the Undead
Nadine Botha, in collaboration with Henry de Vries (Department of Infectious Diseases, Public Health Service (GGD), Amsterdam, and Department of Dermatology, Amsterdam University Medical Centres (AUMC))

Nadine Botha’s project is a participatory research proposal into public health, stigma, othering and viruses, by revisiting the most lucrative topical story in entertainment media: zombies. With an interactive green screen and augmented reality, participants can re-embody the archetypical zombie film and disentangle the tale of infectious social othering it propagates. The project provokes thought about who the other actually is in stories about outbreaks and public health that currently dominate our everyday reality.

The three winning art projects can be admired from 11 December, at MU Hybrid Art House in Eindhoven, where they will be presented in an exhibition alongside other inspiring and fascinating Bio Art & Design works.

The jury about the winners
In the attachment you can read excerpts from the jury report about the three winners of the BAD Award 2020. Juryrapport Bad Award 2020

Bio Art & Design Award
The BAD Award is an annual international competition. The aim is to let artists and designers who graduated within the past five years experiment with bio art and design and push the boundaries of art and science. The BAD Award 2020 is an initiative of ZonMw, MU Hybrid Art House and BioArt Laboratories. The award is an incentive for the fast-growing group of young artist whose work is focusing on the discovery of all the new possibilities the life sciences have to offer.

The jury of the BAD Award 2020 consisted of:

  • William Myers, head of the jury, writer, curator, professor, bioart & design
  • Fred Balvert, Science communicator Erasmus MC, Science Gallery Rotterdam
  • Xandra van der Eijk, artist and designer, winner BAD Award 2017, co-curator Polarities 2019
  • Nienke Binnendijk, Director Blue City Lab (wetlab for biodesign and bioart)
  • Joyce Lebbink, Principal investigator at the department of Molecular Genetics, Erasmus MC
  • Simon(e) van Saarloos, writer and philosopher
  • Karen Verschooren, curator and head exhibitions, STUK Belgium

Photography: Boudewijn Bollmann