Of late, St. Claude Avenue gallery openings have attained a kind of critical mass, with too much to see and too little time. And some events are in a constant state of flux, such as Swarm at Kawliga Studios and the Iron Works (in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association convention), which explores relations between humans and other creatures.
The most scientific stuff appears at Kawliga. The absence of explanatory labels is puzzling, but the curators intimate they did this to emphasize the evolutionary ephemeralness of the work. Take the Anti-Rabbit Art installation, a pop-surreal painting paired with a rabbit in a glass box. The painting incorporates blood used in the production of an anti-elephantiasis drug derived from the interaction of microbes, worms and rabbits with the aid of lasers and genetic engineering. "Anti-rabbit" is geek code for a counteragent, and you have to feel for the bunny, who'd clearly rather be in a briar patch, but it's all for a good cause. Elsewhere on a wall is a list of diseases and the code names of transgenic rats created with human DNA to produce drugs to fight deadly pathogens. Below the list are the cremated remains of the rats in little plastic disco ball reliquaries. Then there are things that glow in petri dishes, as well as works with related themes that look more like traditional art, but you get the picture: you're in over your head. Even so, it's not a bad way to be disoriented.
The more traditional, strange and surreal weirdo-art appears at the wondrous voodoo-science warehouse that is the Ironworks. Here we have whole new species such as David Hardegree's multi-eyed flying demon fish (pictured) hovering near an amazing Creole architectural mutant environment by Angela Eve Freese. Local artists Miss Pussycat, Michel Varisco, Alan Gerson, Daphne Loney, Hannah Chalew and David Sullivan mix well with the international group of science-art spelunkers. A great show for anyone interested in mutants, artistic or otherwise. — D. Eric Bookhardt
Mutispecies Salon 3: Swarm
Kawliga Studios, 3331 St. Claude Ave.
The Ironworks, 612 Piety St.