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‘Learning from others’, a dialogue between Maria Blasco and Rafael Doctor at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum


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Maria Blasco Maria Blasco. /CNIO

On November 12, Maria Blasco, Director of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), will participate in the ‘Learning from others’ event, which will take place at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum as part of the activities related to the exhibition More-than-humans. In this event, moderated by Carlos Urroz, director of the TBA21 Foundation in Madrid, Blasco will talk with Rafael Doctor Roncero, curator and art critic committed to the cause of animal rights, and former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Castile and León (MUSAC) and the Andalusian Centre of Photography, on how to learn from animals in an anthropocentric culture.

This exchange of thoughts between science and art will underline the value of respectful coexistence of humans with nature in the Anthropocene, the epoch in which we live.

The link between science and art is familiar to CNIO, which explores the common territories of both disciplines through the CNIO Art initiative, launched by Maria Blasco. In its first edition (in 2018), the initiative organised a conversation between the recently deceased molecular biologist Margarita Salas and the artist Eva Lootz, and, in 2019, between the quantum scientist Ignacio Cirac and the photographer Chema Madoz. The proceeds of the sales of artworks generated through these conversations will go to CNIO Friends for new hires in cancer research.

Maria Blasco

Director of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) and Head of the Telomeres and Telomerase Group (CNIO).

Maria Blasco is a molecular biologist dedicated to the study of telomeres and the enzyme telomerase and their role in cancer and ageing. She helped identify the telomerase-encoding genes of mammals and, together with her group, showed that ageing and age-related diseases can be delayed by activating the enzyme.

She has been the Director of the CNIO in Madrid since 2011. Her achievements have been recognized through prestigious international awards such as the Josef Steiner Cancer Research Award from Switzerland, the Körber European Science Award from Germany, the EMBO Gold Medal, as well as the National Science Award Santiago Ramón y Cajal and the Rey Jaime I Award. Blasco also received honorary doctorates in Spain from the Carlos III University of Madrid (2014), the University of Alicante (2017), and the University of Murcia (2018).

Rafael Doctor

An art historian specialised in the history of photography and contemporary art, he promoted and directed different cultural initiatives in the Spanish art scene, such as the Image Symposium of the Community of Madrid, Espacio Uno/Space One of the Queen Sofía Museum (1997- 2000), and the MUSAC (2002-2009). He recently directed the Andalusian Centre of Photography (2017-2019) and created as an independent curator a dozen projects linked to contemporary art, such as the thematic cycle ‘los Encontros de Santiago de Compostela’ [the Santiago de Compostela Meetings] (2011-present). He is the author of several publications on art and photography and directs the ‘Los Doscientos’ publishing house.

His commitment to the animal liberation movement and environmental thinking is reflected in the curatorship of exhibitions such as Animal rights. Representation, Violence, and Answers (2016, La Casa Encendida, Madrid), which advocated animal rights, or in the creation, together with Ruth Toledano, of the Animal Capital Festival (2015), a culture, art and thought platform for defending animal rights aimed at bringing animalism to artistic institutions.

Carlos Urroz

Carlos Urroz is the director of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), an institution founded by Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, dedicated to the production, exhibition, and collection of contemporary art. Its commissioning of artists from around the world makes it an incubator for projects with a political and environmental focus that defies categories. Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary and the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum have signed a four-year agreement to present a series of contemporary art exhibitions from the TBA21 collection at the museum and an associated public programme.

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