Hooked: When Want Becomes Need was the inaugural exhibition of Science Gallery Atlanta, May 2022 – September 5, a group exhibition of multimedia artworks. The exhibition was curated to present to the general public contemporary scientific perspectives and approaches to addiction, organized by Emory University Science Gallery Atlanta, and designed and installed by Flutter & Wow Museum Projects. Science Gallery Atlanta is the second — and now only — North American venture of the global Science Gallery Network. The exhibition took place in Building 12 of Atlanta’s newly-renovated Pullman Yards. It involved the labors of dozens of people across the spectrum of Atlanta’s academic and artistic communities.
Addiction is a behavior that takes many destructive forms but is rooted in a biological and psychological reality we all share. In different ways, it affects all of us. Despite this, addiction is stigmatized, not well understood, and almost never the topic of popular exhibitions. Hooked sought to change that.
Some of the artworks exhibited in Hooked cleverly demonstrate the current scientific understandings of addiction, while other works invite visitors to relate to the experience of addiction — personally, as family members and friends, and as a society. All of the exhibits challenged visitors to reflect upon and rethink their personal relationships to addiction. Empathy and understanding permeated the exhibits, interpretation and design. The exhibition was thoroughly immersive and thoughtfully informative.
Many of the exhibited artworks involve custom electronic and mechanical systems, and many are interactive. Some exhibits require specific installation settings and several are sculptures, scaled tiny to monumental. Exhibited in a cavernous 100-year-old industrial space, Hooked was designed to disorient visitors, even as it led them through a central exhibition narrative, structured around curatorial themes. Towering custom walls, non-traditional exhibit labels, intentional use of materials, dramatic lighting, and a constantly alternating sense of intimacy and alienation in the layout help make the experience of Hooked unique, accessible, and cohesive.
As the curatorial, design and production team assembled the exhibition, we also built a gallery and an organization from scratch. We overcame a lot of challenges as we prepared a newly renovated industrial building to function as an exhibit hall. The effort involved many Atlanta communities. The exhibition and associated programming drew a large and varied audience from differing backgrounds. Reaction to the exhibition was strong and positive. Hooked brought attention to the topic of addiction, from current scientific research to lived experience, in an affective, experiential and participatory way.
For another example of an exhibition showcasing art and science that Flutter & Wow has curated, click here.