About the Artist

Arne Hendriks (1972) is a researcher, artist and creator who explores the edges of specific cultural values that define our relationship with the planet. In Hendriks’ opinion, we should open our minds to radical, new ideas and disruptive practices. In the project The Incredible Shrinking Man, he looks into the question if man could not get smaller instead of bigger, how this could be achieved, and what the positive consequences would be. If we shrunk to 50cm, a single chicken could feed 100 people.

About the Search Question

For the Department of Search, Arne Hendriks is developing KankerCel (CancerCel), an undisciplinary research centre to unravel our craving for growth. The KankerCel attempts to open up a space where different perceptions of growth are considered such as the cancer cell versus macro economical theory. In this way, the word growth resonates with potentially new meaning and actions. In conversations with various disciplines at the Utrecht Science Park, Hendriks sees the growth paradigm is wide spread and varies. In terms of economics, growth means progress, whilst in cancer treatment progress means death. In the body, our cells have amazing checks and balances to make sure a cell stops dividing but only when a steady state has been reached. In the economy, there are also systems of checks and balances, but mostly it is centered around the idea of stimulating growth.

One of the strange paradoxes found in the relationship between cancer research and the economy is perhaps in the latter there is more space for the influence of human desire. The economy is based more in ideology than fact, and therefore requires perhaps an even greater investment of our fantasy. In the end a cancer researcher always returns to the cell to try and solve the riddle of growth whereas the economist can perhaps only fall back onto imagination about human desire. Whilst our economic desires continue to be very destructive, in theory we might turn this fantasy into something more sustainable.

At the KankerCel, Hendriks aims to design a level playing field for sharing conversations about growth. By opening up an disruptive space for learning that contains amongst other things a protein shake bar, a garden for growing furniture and a dialogue space to initiate conversations between a cancer researcher and economist the KankerCel will try to develop a new language that will help us bolster our immune system against our irrational desire for continuous growth.

Collaboration partners

Hubrecht Institute, Hans Clevers, Daniele Guardavaccaro, Puck Knipscheer, Geert Kops, Jacco van Rheenen and many more

Botanical Gardens Utrecht, Gerard van Buiten, hortulanus

Utrecht University

Departement of History and Art History – Economic and Social History, Prof. Jan Luiten van Zanden

School of Economics, Nodir Primkulov, master student and co-author of KankerCel website, Julia Swart, assistent-professor of Economic Sustainability and many students

Lucas Maassen, designer

Design Academy Eindhoven, Cécile Espinasse, Felix Mollinga

Studio Rooiejas, Jasper van den Berg, graphic designer and artist


No posts found.

Would you like to receive Zero news?

Subscribe in our newsletter list!

Department of Search

The initiative of the Department of Search was taken by the Aardschap Foundation and the municipality of Utrecht in collaboration with the Utrecht Science Park Foundation and Universitity Utrecht. The Zero Footprint Campus programme is also made possible by The Art of Impact, Mondriaan Fonds, provincie Utrecht, K.F. Hein Fonds, Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds and Stichting Doen.


Follow us!