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The animalisation of the human leads in consequence to the treatment of its body as a product, a material for exploitation -- ultimately as food.
Can you imagine we could grow our own meat in a home incubator? Can you imagine we could live a totally self-sufficient life? In her project, Theresa Schubert views the human body as a food production unit, as an ever-renewing food source. By using new in vitro meat production techniques, we could use our own body to feed ourselves, we could literally eat ourselves and yet stay live. In the performance 'mEat me' the artistic gesture reaches into a hybrid space of alchemy, futuristic industry and posthumanism, and proposes a cannibalistic solution as a response to the 'clean meat' fake ethics.
By turning into humanoid hybrids, we are becoming animal... The animal has ceased to be one of the privileged terms that indexes the European subject’s relation to otherness.“ -- Braidotti, Animals, Anomalies, and Inorganic Others, pg. 526 (2009)
Numerous post-humanist thinkers emphasize the non-human-centred perspective of the world, emphasising that humans are also animals. Interpreting ‘zoé-egalitarianism' to its extreme, humans are viewed as any other animal and hence also represent a potential source of food. In her art project 'mEat me' Theresa performed a biopsy of her thigh muscle with which she obtained cells that she (together with a team of bioengineers) multiplied in a serum made from her own blood and then seeded onto an edible gellan gum matrix in the form of a meat patty.
The project stems from the criticism of the cruel handling of animals in industrial farming and its environmental impact due to the high C02 emissions and water use. The idea of lab-grown meat as a more sustainable and cruelty-free alternative has been around for several years. The main problem of this ‘clean meat’ stems from the origin of the culture medium. Most cell and tissue culture protocols are based on FBS, foetal bovine serum, which should really be called lethal bovine serum, as the blood for its production is drained from a living bovine foetus. The artist wanted to emphasize the use of animal free alternatives in lab work and use plant base nutrients for the reproduction of cells. Once she realised that the plant serum for breeding cells is still in its development phase, the artist decided to make nutrient serum from her own blood.
'mEat me' demands a re-evaluation of the use of animal meat for food and the attitudes to the bio-political status of human bodies and materiality in times in which technology has entered every part of our society and enabled for our bodies to be symbolically and physically reconstructed regardless of the consequences.
The body is an arrangement in spacetime, a patterning, a process; the mind is a process of the body, an organ, doing what organs do: organize. Order, pattern, connect... an immensely flexible technology, or life strategy
— Ursula K. Le Guin
Premiere: 06 February 2020. Performance at Galerija Kapelica, Ljublijana (SI)
Artistic direction: Theresa Schubert
Sound design, interaction and AI: Moisés Horta Valenzuela
Video camera: Hana Jošić
Producer: Kapelica Gallery - www.kapelica.org
Performance consultation: Margherita Pevere, Mareike Maage
Expert help: Dr. Ariana Barlič, Kristijan Tkalec | Production: Kapelica Gallery / Kersnikova Institute
Partner: Educell company for cellular biology, d.o.o.
Freya Probst - rhizomes (root fabric)
Prof. Saša Novak, Kaja Križman - Jožef Stefan Institute, Department for Nanostructured Materials
The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the Department of Culture of the Municipality of Ljubljana, and the Thuringian program for the promotion of young female academics and artists.
This project received funding from the Thuringian program for the promotion of young female academics and artists.
The program of Kapelica Gallery is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Department of Culture of the Municipality of Ljubljana.
Interview published on 14.04.2020 in We Make Money Not Art, article written by Regine Debatty: we-make-money-not-art.com