Interdisciplinary Conference


in Art & Science

26-28 November 2020, University of Applied Arts Vienna/Online

56. How to shake hands after a pandemic?
Session: Session "NSP13 / Moist"
Speakers: Francois-Joseph Lapointe

Shaking hands with thousands of individuals is one of the experimental performances I have been conducting in different cities around the globe for the last six years, but not anymore! In the early months of 2020, as I was about to fly to China to present the 1000 Handshakes Project in Shanghai, the world was suddenly hit by the covid-19 pandemic. With social distancing practices being enforced globally, social contacts among strangers have been suddenly frowned upon, if not declared illegal by local administrations. No hugs! No kisses! No handshakes! As part of my work as an artscientist, I like to challenge the fear and fascination that people have with bacteria, viruses, and other types of so-called germs. I engage in various performances to hack my microbiome by interacting with others and my environment. You are what you touch. You are what you eat. You are what your fuck. You are what you pray for. You are what you are born as. These are the types of experiments I set up to study the contagion of microbes I might have been in contact with during my performances. I collect data before, during, and after each experiment to characterize the bacterial communities on my body and to create microbiome selfies depicting my metamorphosis. All of it seems very improbable now, or impossible to contemplate in the years to come. In this talk, I will address some of my current concerns about my future practice as a performance artist working with pathogens. How to shake hands after a pandemic? How to have sex after a pandemic? How to give birth after a pandemic? How to live and interact with others after a pandemic?

Francois-Joseph Lapointe

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