research project combining epigenetics and performance & video art


conception _ Cristina Ghinassi in collaboration with geneticist and science communicator Dr Edward Duca
researchers _ Cristina Ghinassi, Dr Christopher Scerri, Dr Edward Duca, Dr Joseph Borg, Dr Stephanie Bezzina Wettinger
28 days repeated test-performance _ Cristina Ghinassi

support _ Malta Arts Fund — Strand 1 Research Support Project
collaboration _ Spazju Kreattiv at St James Cavalier
project partner _ Istituto Italiano di Cultura, La Valletta.
dissemination partner _ Science in the City Festival

duration 5 months (June – October 2016)

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In science truth, in art honour.



Can performance art cause epigenetic changes within individuals participating in the art form?
By combining scientific research – specifically epigenetics – with new media art, the project aims to demonstrate how our lifestyle and the social environment can impact how our genes work and, consequently, who we are.

The major goal of the project is to run a proof-of concept performance and tests. It will measure the physiological characteristics and DNA methylation – an epigenetic property – in specific parts of the artist’s (Cristina Ghinassi) and another person’s (who doesn’t do the performance—a control) DNA before and after a test performance.
Cristina Ghinassi in collaboration with Dr Edward Duca and other researchers will study the academic literature on the epigenetics of exercise and social interactions. She will also conduct interviews with Maltese scientists and experts in order to devise and repeat a test performance aiming to prove scientifically that performance art can cause epigenetic changes in the involved individuals.

CODE SWITCH #1 will present its the results on the 28th September 2016 at 7pm at the Italian Institute of Culture in St George’s Square, Valletta (Istituto Italiano di Cultura – La Valletta). The event is targeted to scientists, artists and others interested in this innovative project. It forms part of the Science in the City—European Researchers’ Night festival, which is funded by the European Commission’s Research and Innovation Framework Programme H2020 (2014-2020) by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions. It is recognized as a Festival by Europe for Festivals and Festivals for Europe (EFFE).

CODE SWITCH #1 fb page

Presentation of CODE SWITCH #1 research project (8,5′)