2014 Toward a Science of Consciousness

The Tucson Conference

Art-Technology Exhibits


Rob La Frenais


Artists Between Specie: Should we be talking to the Chimpanzees?



      A Provocation to Accompany Primate Cinema: Apes as Family* 



         Artist Rachel Mayeri working with the chimpanzees

                in the research pods at the Budungo trail, Edinburgh Zoo,

                       to discover their movie preferences   (Photo by R.L. Frenais)

Dr. Rob La Frenais has been a contemporary art curator for 26 years, working internationally and creatively with artists entirely on original commissions. He believes in being directly engaged with the artist’s working process as far as possible, while actively widening the context within which the artist can work.   He has worked closely with many artists including James Turrell, Marina Abramovic, Isaac Julien, Cornelia Parker, Mona Hatoum, Stelarc, Steve Kurtz, Aleksandra Mir, Ashok Sukumaran, Marko Pelijhan and Tomas Saraceno as well as many other established and emerging artists, working for European Cities of Culture in Glasgow and Madrid, directing the Belluard-Bollwerk Festival in Switzerland and curating a major programme 'The Incident', featuring James Turrell and others, for the ICA in London in 1996.  

For the last 16 years he has been based at The Arts Catalyst, a UK Arts Council National Portfolio organisation in London, where, along with director Nicola Triscott he has developed an ambitious artistic programme and built up an unparalleled creative team which has been responsible for some of the most innovative exhibitions and events, based on interactions between art and science, in the world. He has recently given keynote lectures and chaired panels at the Museum of Image and Sound, Sao Paulo, Tate Britain, Centre Pompidou, Metz, The Exploratorium, San Francisco, Sabanci University Istanbul, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Laboratorio Al Almeda Mexico City, Edinburgh University, Nottingham Contemporary, Goldsmiths University, ISEA 20111 and 2012,  the University of Texas at Dallas, Boston University, MIT and City University of Hong Kong.  As well as producing site-based works, The Arts Catalyst collaborates with institutions such as the European Space Agency, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, Tate Britain and the Roundhouse.

His most recent exhibition with the Arts Catalyst, Republic of the Moon opened this year on London’s South Bank and is now touring internationally. He was given an honorary Doctorate by Dartington College of Art in 2005 and in 2006 completed a practice-based Phd at Brunel University on issues around curating.  Before become a curator in 1987 he founded and edited the influential contemporary cultural journal Performance Magazine in 1979, editing and writing criticism internationally during the eighties. He was also the first curator ever to experience zero gravity, with a group of artists, at Star City in Moscow in 1999 and went on, with the Arts Catalyst to enable around 50 artists (and scientists) to work in an environment previously only experienced by astronauts and space scientists.  



* click here for feature article by Rob La Frenais