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Horizontal Exchange, Relations, and Resistance in Bioart and Practice-based Research

by Maya Hey, WhiteFeather Hunter, Emilie St-Hilaire

Journal International de Bioéthique, (Dossier thématique) Art(bio)éthique

(Summer 2019) - contact for access


Bioart sits at the intersection of two relatively elite fields of knowledge specialization and production: Biotechnology and Art. These specializations occupy different strata of the academic hierarchy, requiring credentials and disciplinary rigour that, historically, have tended to validate delineated specificities instead of similarities in research; in turn, these areas of expertise privilege credentialed mastery over other ways of knowing. With its overlap of the arts and the sciences, how might bioart function to flatten existing hierarchies and foster more horizontally collaborative methods towards a shared and critical understanding of bioethics? This paper builds on the notion of horizontal collaboration theorized by Couture et al. (2017), critically attending to the ruptures and resistances (real, perceived, and constructed) that occur when working transversally within verticalized institutions. Combining theoretical interventions with practice-based case studies that deconstruct spaces of bio-artistic inquiry — from the lab or studio to kitchens, classrooms, and galleries — this paper aims to build ‘good’ relations according to Joanna Zylinska’s definition of a body compounding its relation to another, thereby increasing the power of both.

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