[-empyre-] October topic: This Mess We're In

Tarsh Bates tarshbates at gmail.com
Mon Oct 1 17:19:55 AEST 2018

Welcome to the October discussion "This Mess We're In." It is 200 years 
since the publication of “Frankenstein,” the first speculative fiction 
novel. This month, the –empire- discussion is devoted to reflecting on 
the legacies of Mary Shelley’s seminal exploration of life creation and 
re-formation from queer, feminist and first nations perspectives. The 
guests this month are artists and writers involved in “This Mess We’re 
In,” an exhibition that entangles queer feminist ecologies with 
“Frankenstein” that is presented as part of SymbioticA’s Unhallowed Arts 
Festival in Perth which runs throughout October and November. 26 
experimental artworks by first nations, national and international 
artists are exhibited in “This Mess We’re In.” These works emerge from 
art/science practices that explore the relationships between life and 
technology, emerging, resisting, reforming and responding to the 
political, ethical and material implications of manipulating life. The 
exhibition concept arose out of concern about continuing gender gaps in 
art and science, which are even greater for queers and first nations 
peoples. The manipulation of and discrimination towards these bodies has 
been justified through scientific endeavours and is particularly 
disturbing in contemporary biotechnology, where life is increasingly 
industrialized and manipulated. We are not all equally affected by this 
manipulation. The exhibition explores whose lives are manipulated and 
exploited, who can manipulate and who cannot. Check it out at Old 
Customs House, Fremantle if you are local or https://thismesswerein.com/ 
if you are not.

-empyre- provides us with an opportunity to extend the explorations of 
the material, conceptual, political and philosophical implications of 
the scientific creation and/or manipulation of life. Artists and writers 
from “This Mess We’re In” invite you to join us in expressing the untold 
legacies of the last 200 years of colonialism, industrialization and 
biotechnology, giving voice to the creatures that emerge from and escape 
the creation and control of life and drawing on the themes of 
fragmentation, emergence, reproduction and ethics that are the 
cornerstone of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” We encourage you to 
explore the diversity and complexity of life, escape individualism and 
undermine utilitarianism and revel in the messiness of life and 
technology, our mess-mates and the mess we have made.

I am very honoured to introduce the guests for Week 1 of this mess:

*Hege Tapio*, whose artistic practice has pursued the interest in 
emerging media interconnecting art, new technology and science. With a 
kitchen bench DIY attitude and through artistic practice she has been 
inspired to how apparatuses and new technology opens to renewed 
interpretation, creative misuse and critical thinking. Art driven by 
curiosity, knowledge, ability to convey and contextualize aspects of 
technology and research, both through speculation and critical attitude, 
have been the basis for many of the projects. With her latest work 
HUMANFUEL, Hege problematizes biofuel as an alternative to fossil fuel, 
and she scrutinizes how we humans view ourselves in an ecological 
perspective. With the slogan GET THIN – GO FAST, Hege claims that in the 
process of searching for new solutions to the energy crisis and for 
alternative fuels, we have overlooked how we ourselves may constitute an 
invaluable resource. Hege is also the founder and artistic manager of 
i/o/lab – Center for Future Art where she has established and curated 
Article biennial – a festival for the electronic and unstable art. Art 
encompassing and intersecting with technology and science has been the 
main objective for the development of projects for i/o/lab. www.tapio.no

Working in the kitchen, *Lindsay Kelley* explores how the experience of 
eating changes when technologies are being eaten. Her art practice works 
at the intersection of food and technoscience to produce sculpture and 
performance that incorporate tasting and eating. She has performed and 
exhibited internationally. Her published work can be found in journals 
including parallax, Transgender Studies Quarterly, Angelaki, and 
Environmental Humanities. Her first book is Bioart Kitchen: Art, 
Feminism and Technoscience (London: IB Tauris, 2016). Bioart Kitchen 
emerges from her work at the University of California Santa Cruz (Ph.D 
in the History of Consciousness and MFA in Digital Art and New Media). 
Kelley is a Lecturer at UNSW Art & Design in Sydney as well as a 
Co-Investigator with the KIAS funded Research-Creation and Social 
Justice CoLABoratory: Arts and the Anthropocene (University of Alberta, 

*Laura Barendregt* is a researcher-in-the-making from Sydney via the 
Netherlands, now in Perth to complete a research internship at 
SymbioticA, University of Western Australia. She is currently enrolled 
in the MSc Arts and Culture (Culture of Arts, Science and Technology) at 
Maastricht University, Netherlands, and graduated with a BA (Performance 
Studies) in 2016 from the University of Sydney. While her research 
interests are ever evolving, today they include; relationships of art 
and science, sociology and ethnography of the arts, alternative 
knowledge cultures, public engagement with the arts, ethics of 
speculative design, auto-ethnography, situated learning and artistic 

and myself as curator of the exhibition.

Future weeks:
October 8 to 14        Week 2:  Alize Zorlutuna, Rachel Mayeri, Špela Petrič
October 15 to 21      Week 3:  Abhishek Hazra, Kathy High, Sue 
Hauri-Downing, Svenja Kratz, WhiteFeather Hunter
October 22 to 29      Week 4: Helen Pynor, Marietta Radomska, Mary 
Maggic, Mike Bianco, Sarah Hermanutz

Jump in!

<empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>



Tarsh Bates

PhD (Biological Art) Survivor

SymbioticA, The University of Western Australia

w: tarshbates.com <http://tarshbates.com/>

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