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What’s Art Got To Do With It? Reflecting on Bioart and Ethics From the Experience of the Trust Me, I’m an Artist Project
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TRUST ME, I’M AN ARTIST© ISAST   doi:10.1162/LEON_a_01480 LEONARDO, Vol. 51, No. 1, pp. 00–00, 2018 85 Fig. 1. Trust Me, I’m an Artist workshop at the Medical Museion in Copenhagen, Denmark . (© Annick Bureaud.) WHAT’S ART GOT TO DO WITH IT? REFLECTING ON BIOART AND ETHICS FROM THE EXPERIENCE OF THE TRUST ME, I’M AN ARTIST PROJECT Annick Bureaud, 14, Rue du Cambodge, 75020 Paris, France. Email: . See for supplemental files associated with this issue. Submitted: 19 February 2017 Abstract Bioart and biomedical art are blossoming fields, with a whole new generation of artists, the DIYbio movement enabling more people to get involved, and discoveries in bioscience bringing in new challenges . Supported by the Creative Europe program of the European Commission Trust Me, I’m an Artist is a project initiated by artist Anna Dumitriu and ethicist Bobbie Farsides to provide a platform for discussing bioart and ethics, sharing knowledge and building capacity. This article reflects upon the author’s journey through the different art projects and how foregrounding ethics challenged her usual art critic approach. Keywords: ethics, bioscience, biomedicine, bioart One of the reasons that brought me into the Trust Me, I’m an Artist project [1] was to dig into the many complex issues of ethics and bioart. My hope was to better address all the questions raised and benefit from the knowledge of the various people involved. A second reason was that, in only a few years—from 2010 on, to give a loose timeframe—I witnessed the development of a more cautious, restrictive approach and attitude to what could or could not be done or exhibited as art with biotechnologies. Simultaneously, the bioart field blew up as a whole new generation of artists pushed the boundaries. The DIYbio movement enabled more people to get involved, and discoveries in bioscience and biomedicine brought new challenges. Trust Me, I’m an Artist was initiated and led by artist Anna Dumitriu and ethicist Bobbie Farsides in 2011 [2]. The project consisted of organizing public events where an artist proposed a bioart work to an ethical committee, composed, as much as possible, on the same basis as an ethics committee in a scientific context of the country where it takes place. Obviously, this setup includes de facto a performance/staged element. In 2015, with funding from the Creative Europe program of the European Commission, the project developed and expanded under the lead organization of the Amsterdam-based Waag Society. The focus was on art and biomedicine and an expressed goal to help build capacity and shared knowledge for artists, scientists and cultural players (Fig. 1) wanting to engage in those areas and types of collaborations. In the first edition of Trust Me, I’m an Artist, Anna Dumitriu and I organized the Paris hearing for Marion Laval-Jeantet and Benoît Mangin from Art Orienté Objet about Que le panda vive en moi [3], a project that could have followed their famous Que le cheval vive en moi! (“May the Horse Live in Me!”). In the second edition, on which I am reflecting, I attended the different projects as the director of Leonardo/Olats. In my capacity as art critic, I produced a series of podcasts [4] with both the artists and the curators and wrote a diary [5] throughout. In this article, I reflect on and come back to some of the points that were significant for me, either by providing a conceptual framework, by opening up new questions, or by highlighting unanswered issues that require further debate by society at large. Practical ethics in biotech and biomedical research laboratories , as well as legislation, form a blurry landscape with varied rules and regulations [6] that seem to be in constant flux, without a shared homogeneity among the EU countries. Here and there the weight of local history, sometimes tied to medical scandals, can be witnessed [7]—not to mention the moral and mental scars left by World War II. But, more importantly, it is our conceptions and beliefs about life and the living that are currently shaken and have become unstable. That is the very issue of the redefinition of ethics and...