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We are never alone: a conversation on bio art with Eduardo Kac


Andermann, Jens; Giorgi, Gabriel (2017). We are never alone: a conversation on bio art with Eduardo Kac. Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, 26(2):279-297.

Abstract

Brazilian-born artist Eduardo Kac’s (Rio de Janeiro, 1962) work has raised eyebrows especially for his ‘transgenic art’ projects, among others: Genesis, 1999; GFP Bunny, 2000; The Eight Day, 2001; Natural History of the Enigma, 2003/08. In all of these, Kac and his scientific collaborators realize genetic interventions into living organisms at the same time as they trigger audience reactions to these from playful kinds of interaction that is integrated into the works’ open and dynamic creative process. Yet whereas the ethical and political challenges Kac’s work poses have sparked lively debates within and beyond the realm of the arts – can and must art engage with the ‘creative’ potentials of biotechnology and genetics? Do these not in fact (as Vilém Flusser and others have suggested) hold the key to realizing the vanguardist dream of merging art and life? Or should the artist, from the vantage point of his own creative practice, not rather warn us against the ethical and political risks involved in genetic engineering? – much less attention has been paid to the way Kac’s art also continues and transforms a particular legacy of post-concretist, ambient and performance art in Latin America.
Kac himself has referred to Brazilian artists Flávio de Carvalho, Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark as informing his interest in open, participative forms, which characterize both his transgenic and his earlier ‘tele-presence’ art projects. Other Latin American artists of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century have been producing intriguing engagements with living materials, multispecies habitats and organic remains, including such diverse names as Luis Fernando Benedit, Nicola Constantino, Nuno Ramos, or Teresa Margolles. In a conversation with Jens Andermann and Gabriel Giorgi at the University of Zurich’s Center of Latin American Studies on March 12, 2015, Kac addressed the way in which his work might be seen as continuing or challenging long-standing representations of the New World as a repository of ‘nature’, from colonial chronicles of discovery to contemporary discourses of biodiversity and conservation. To what extent is bio art – and the questions it raises about the Anthropocene as a threshold of radical biopolitical convergence between ‘history’ and ‘nature’ – necessarily ‘transcultural’ and planetary in its extension?

Abstract

Brazilian-born artist Eduardo Kac’s (Rio de Janeiro, 1962) work has raised eyebrows especially for his ‘transgenic art’ projects, among others: Genesis, 1999; GFP Bunny, 2000; The Eight Day, 2001; Natural History of the Enigma, 2003/08. In all of these, Kac and his scientific collaborators realize genetic interventions into living organisms at the same time as they trigger audience reactions to these from playful kinds of interaction that is integrated into the works’ open and dynamic creative process. Yet whereas the ethical and political challenges Kac’s work poses have sparked lively debates within and beyond the realm of the arts – can and must art engage with the ‘creative’ potentials of biotechnology and genetics? Do these not in fact (as Vilém Flusser and others have suggested) hold the key to realizing the vanguardist dream of merging art and life? Or should the artist, from the vantage point of his own creative practice, not rather warn us against the ethical and political risks involved in genetic engineering? – much less attention has been paid to the way Kac’s art also continues and transforms a particular legacy of post-concretist, ambient and performance art in Latin America.
Kac himself has referred to Brazilian artists Flávio de Carvalho, Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark as informing his interest in open, participative forms, which characterize both his transgenic and his earlier ‘tele-presence’ art projects. Other Latin American artists of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century have been producing intriguing engagements with living materials, multispecies habitats and organic remains, including such diverse names as Luis Fernando Benedit, Nicola Constantino, Nuno Ramos, or Teresa Margolles. In a conversation with Jens Andermann and Gabriel Giorgi at the University of Zurich’s Center of Latin American Studies on March 12, 2015, Kac addressed the way in which his work might be seen as continuing or challenging long-standing representations of the New World as a repository of ‘nature’, from colonial chronicles of discovery to contemporary discourses of biodiversity and conservation. To what extent is bio art – and the questions it raises about the Anthropocene as a threshold of radical biopolitical convergence between ‘history’ and ‘nature’ – necessarily ‘transcultural’ and planetary in its extension?

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Romance Studies
06 Faculty of Arts > Latin American Center Zurich
Dewey Decimal Classification:800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
470 Latin & Italic languages
410 Linguistics
440 French & related languages
460 Spanish & Portuguese languages
450 Italian, Romanian & related languages
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:05 Jan 2018 13:51
Last Modified:19 Feb 2018 10:02
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1356-9325
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/13569325.2016.1274646
Related URLs:http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cjla20/current (Publisher)

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