CAPSID is the latest multi-media maximalist installation by London-based British artist John Walter (b.1978), best known for Alien Sex Club. Presenting a compelling, sometimes riotous and often surreal world incorporating 250 works of art, CAPSID is the result of collaboration between Walter and molecular virologist Professor Greg Towers of University College London. This major exhibition addresses a crisis of representation surrounding viruses such as HIV, by bringing new scientific knowledge about viral capsids to the attention of the wider public. In turn, this scientific knowledge is enabling Walter to innovate artistic concepts such as collage, colour field painting and pattern-making. John Walter // CAPSID is co-commissioned by CGP London and HOME Manchester. Supported by a Large Arts Award from Wellcome and Arts Council England Grants for the Arts. (CGP, London, 17 May – 8 July 2018 and HOME, Manchester, 10 Nov 2018 – 6 Jan 2019). Published alongside this exhibition is the new HOME publication CAPSID.
Capsids are protein shells contained within viruses that help protect and deliver viruses to host cells during infection. The project uses the imagery and narratives associated with the ground breaking scientific research around capsids to create a new immersive installation featuring drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures, costumes, videos, film and sound, with emphasis on privileging the handmade, the awkward and the asymmetrical.
CAPSID builds on Walter’s previous projects, including Alien Sex Club (2015), in which he sought to update the discussion around HIV.
As John Walter says:
‘Virology has a lot to teach us about how ideas and cultural forms are spread, how they inveigle themselves into existence and how they mutate in order to survive. It seems to be that discussion of memes is hackneyed at this point and so going deeper into the science is a way of refreshing the discussion.’