Marta de Menezes

Telepresent Animal Hall of Fame, Artist


Marta de Menezes is a Portuguese artist (b. Lisbon, 1975) with a degree in Fine Arts by the University in Lisbon, a MSt in History of Art and Visual Culture by the University of Oxford, and a PhD candidate at the University of Leiden. She has been exploring the intersection between Art and Biology, working in research laboratories demonstrating that new biological technologies can be used as new art medium. In 1999 de Menezes created her first biological artwork (Nature?) by modifying the wing patterns of live butterflies. Since then, she has used diverse biological techniques including functional MRI of the brain to create portraits where the mind can be visualised (Functional Portraits, 2002); fluorescent DNA probes to create micro-sculptures in human cell nuclei (nucleArt, 2002); sculptures made of proteins (Proteic Portrait, 2002-2007), DNA (Innercloud, 2003; The Family, 2004) or incorporating live neurons (Tree of Knowledge, 2005) or bacteria (Decon, 2007). Her work has been presented internationally in exhibitions, articles and lectures. She is currently the artistic director of Ectopia, an experimental art laboratory within a biological research institute – the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência – in Lisbon, and Director of Cultivamos Cultura in the South of Portugal.


Marta de Menezes takes part in the Telepresent Animal Exhibition, February to May 2014.


The Telepresent Animal Hall of Fame

The wing patterns of live butterflies were modified for artistic purposes. Such changes were achieved by interfering with the normal development of the wing, inducing the development of a new pattern never seen before in nature. The butterfly wings remain exclusively made of normal cells, without artificial pigments or scars, but designed by an artist. These wings are an example of something simultaneously natural, but resulting from human intervention. The artistic intervention leaves the butterfly genes unchanged. Thus, the new patterns are not transmitted to the offspring of the modified butterflies. The new patterns are something that never existed before in nature, and that rapidly disappear from nature not to be seen again. These artworks literally live and die. They are an example of art with a lifespan – the lifespan of a butterfly. They are an example of something that is simultaneously art and life. This project was developed at the laboratory of Professor Paul Brakefield, University of Leiden, Holland, with the scientists: A. Monteiro, M. Bax, K. Koops, R. Kooi and P. Brakefield.

Notable Works

Body Nature: Interview with Marta De Menezes

Marta's current work Bio Camp in Canada (2013)

Marta's Bio Workshop