restricted access Relics of Bioart: Ethics and Messianic Aesthetics in Performance Documentation
Abstract

Australia-based art collective Tissue Culture and Art Project (TC&A) use the tools of biotechnology as artistic media to create “Semi-Living” sculptures. These sculptures are exhibited, eaten, and killed in various public contexts and, therefore, raise important ethical questions about the existence of life outside of the body. Departing from dominant concerns within the academy about the ethics of producing biological art, the essay instead focuses on the overlooked ethics of its reception. It addresses the ethics of spectatorship in TC&A’s work by arguing three main points: first, its documentary images reference, play with, and are haunted by religious iconography; second, examining the messianic resonances in TC&A’s work illuminates an ethics of spectatorship that is closely related to the Derridean ethical experience of otherness; and third, focusing on TC&A’s documentary images addresses the potential of bioart documentation to generate affect and engage in ethical relations.


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