Focus on Companies refers to the exhibition taking place at the same
time in Aachen - Focus on Genes. Focus on Genes is a travelling
exhibition put together by the socio-culturally agile Hygiene-Museum in
Dresden which attempts to represent genetic engineering -in a popular
scientific and experience oriented way.-
According to the announcement of the project, the fundamental contents
of the exhibition, Focus on Genes‚ are dealt with in great detail in a
richly illustrated catalogue which was published in the framework of the
Gene-Worlds‚ project in 1998. Similar to this preceding exhibition
from the Hygiene-Museum, once again knowledge about genetic engineering
should be presented for forming your own opinion and coming closer to
the goal of weighing out the chances and risks which the use of genetic
engineering offers from a medical, ethical and social perspective.
To provide a counterpoint to the five Gene-Worlds (Gen-Welten)
exhibitions shown in Germany and Switzerland, in 1998 I simultaneously
realized the project antiGene Worlds: Oppositions to Genetic
Engineering.* In a text published in the context of this project** I
pointed out that the concept of Gene-Worlds is based on the false
assumption that individuals can contribute to the decisions made about
which technologies are implemented and which are not. The decisions
about these things are not made in a democratic way, but, rather, in
connection with powerful financial interests and the political pressure
from companies. In both Gene-WorldsFocus on Genes, the
exhibition s role consists solely in creating acceptance!
The project Focus on Companies therefore puts those companies which
advance genetic engineering research and product development at the
center of critique.
The starting point for the print series produced for the exhibition in
Aachen are current publications from companies such as Novartis,
Schering, Bio-Rad Laboratories and Roche, which appear as sponsors for
Focus on Genes. Selected pages from company reports and brochures were
chosen whereby the original texts which thematize the various areas
within genetic engineering are replaced by black framed yellow text
In contrast to the warning signs of the antiGene Worlds project, the
dangers which arise from the technologies themselves are not at the
center but rather the ecological and social logic of genetic engineering
and its global, socio-political effects. For such areas there is no
place either in the publications of the companies or in Focus on
Therefore, the texts of the companies‚ brochures are covered over with a
political commentary which takes up various themes from the exhibition
(Xenotransplantations, Gentech-rice with Vitamin A, anti-squash
tomatoes) and takes on other perspectives.
* Oliver Ressler, geGen-Welten: Widerstände gegen Gentechnologien,
Edition Selene, 1998, 84 pages.
** Various versions were printed in the antiGene Worlds-publication,
in the magazines ak ˆ analyse & kritik, iz3w ˆ Blätter des
Informationszentrums 3. Welt and in the GID ˆ Gen-ethischer Informationsdienst.