'Self-Conscious Gene' sculpture by Marc Quinn

2019 in London
Marc Quinn
Gallery views of the new Medicine Galleries - G1 Medicine &

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Gallery views of the new Medicine Galleries - G1 Medicine &
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© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London

Bronze sculpture 'Self Conscious Gene' by Marc Quinn, 2019. Commissioned by the Science Museum for the 'Medicine and Bodies' gallery in Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries. This monumental sculpture portrays the artist, actor and model Rick Genest, known as ‘Zombie Boy’. He stands 6 metres tall, holding an anatomy book. His upper body is covered in anatomical tattoos, his legs encased in ripped jeans, and his feet in laced boots.

Following a brain tumour in his teens, Genest started to have anatomical images tattooed onto his body. Many are by tattoo artist Frank Lewis. Collectively they become an entire surface anatomy etched into the bronze of his skin.

Quinn portrays Genest holding a medical anatomy book, the cover featuring some of the most famous anatomical images ever produced: from Vesalius' 'On the fabric of the human body' published in 1543. Combining this medical imagery with Genest’s street-art tattoos, Quinn shows how academic and popular culture combine to shape how we think about a ‘normal’ body, and how that should look. The book that Genest holds is inscribed with text by Quinn.

During the creation of this sculpture, Rick Genest unexpectedly died at the age of 32. This artwork stands as Marc Quinn’s tribute to his life.

This sculpture has been lent by the artist for the duration of Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries.


Object Number:
bronze (copper, tin alloy)
overall: 6000 mm 500 kg
Self-Conscious Gene, (2017) by Marc Quinn. Originally commissioned for The Medicine Galleries, by the Science Museum, London