BioCare: feminist labs and the ethics of care / by Treva Legassie

This poster was presented at the RE:TRACE Conference 2017 in Austria.


Exploring practices of care and maintenance conducted by bioartists, my research addresses and celebrates the intimate and meaningful interactions occurring between these artists and their semi-living subjects/muses/collaborators. Caring for semi-living entities (the term semi-living as defined by Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr to describe transgenic beings that occupy an in-between status as living creatures that rely upon outside forces to stay alive) requires an excess of emotional, physical and intellectual labour on the part of the artist. 

The regimented masculine (a term that amplifies the popular imagination of scientific research as being objective rather than subjective [Bondi 2005; 233]) lab protocols are broken and reframed through the eyes of artists, such as Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr (of Tissue Culture & Art Project [TC&A]), WhiteFeather Hunter, Nicole Clouston, KathyHigh, and Tarsh Bates, who allow themselves to celebrate their maintenance activities, engage with nonhuman bodies and feel empathy towards their specimens. In the laboratory, during the work’s production, and, through the maintenance and pedagogical practices of public display, feminist bioartists impart their knowledge of scientific processes and their caring empathy for nonhuman life.