Interdisciplinary Conference


in Art & Science

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

61. Offering the Body
Session: Session "ORF7b / Index"
Speakers: Louise Mackenzie

This paper will discuss questions arising through the ongoing development of a new live performance* that challenges patriarchal and anthropocentric assumptions in biotechnological research through offering the artist’s (cellular) body as donated object to projects in both science and art. Scheduled to take place in the space of a former anatomy laboratory in Edinburgh, a city historically associated with the theft of human bodies for medical research, Offering the Body enacts the donation of bodily samples for collection in a biobank that will be used for both artistic and scientific research. The work explores the ethical and conceptual limits of the biobank, a modern medical tissue storage facility, to ask where are the boundaries of the body, what do we mean by authority in the context of research (artistic or scientific) and what choices should we make as researchers when using the bodies of others? Contrasting Edinburgh’s historical rogue trade in cadavers with contemporary uses of bodily materials as commodities in the works of bio-artists including Miriam Simun, Hege Tapio, Isabel Burr Raty, Tarsh Bates and Theresa Schubert, this paper will explore feminist perspectives on use of the (cellular) body within academic research to ask how offering the body differs from traditional scientific approaches to biological donation.

Louise Mackenzie

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