M/others and Future Humans – Traveling Exhibition


A call for submissions from the Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology in collaboration with The Multispecies Salon

We live in an era of extinction.  Capital flows, industrial infrastructures, molecules, affects, technoscientific enterprises, and pharmacopornographic desires are engendering human life, while unraveling ecological communities and multispecies worlds.  Against this backdrop, we seek artistic interventions that resist and respond to Haraway’s command: “Make Kin Not Babies!”

M/otherhood is being transformed by “a new kind of capitalism that is hot, psychotropic and punk,” to play with the language of Beatriz Preciado.  Queer libidinal economies, transgressive strategies of care, and multispecies kin-making are also subverting reproductive conventions to generate lively possibilities amidst ongoing disasters.  Systemic colonialism, capitalist austerity, and white-supremacy continues to create othered bodies.  Fertility rates of black and brown bodies continue to be conceptualized as a threat within feminism, Sophie Lewis reminds us, even as critical geographers note ongoing genocidal patterns of mortality.

At the cellular level, the maternal body challenges notions of individuality as fetomaternal microchimerism reveals the presence of cells from the fetus in the mother’s body even decades after giving birth. The maternal body is a chimera, a fleshy conglomerate of pastpresents. Gene editing tools, IVF practices, synthetic biology, robotic prosthetics, epigenetic reprogramming initiatives, microbiopolitical circuits, digital algorithms, and sperm banks are remaking germ plasm and reconfiguring horizons of desire for the human species.  Is it possible to decolonize science and manifest justice while affirming euphoric elements of techno-biopolitics?

Fantasies about future children often orbit around ideals of “perfection.”  The right to choose, a prospective mother’s right to an abortion, is perhaps the central tenet of third-wave feminism. Bringing punk and hacker aesthetics to technologies that shape reproductive choices, we aim to illuminate flexible practices of eugenics that are already eliminating certain kinds of people, like those with Downs Syndrome, from the human population. Queer and politicized “crip,” or “crippled,” engagements with technology offer an opportunity to “shake things up, to jolt people out of their everyday understandings of bodies and minds, of normalcy and deviance,” in the words of Alison Kafer.  We invite tinkerers and thinkers to engage with what Sarah Franklin calls “hope technologies” to do anti- ableist, anti-racist, and feminist work.

Classic feminist scholarship upended the “sexual division of labor” that naturalized roles for cis-gendered women and men.  Reproduction involves sex work, in addition to the biological production of sperm and eggs.  The work of insemination, pregnancy, delivery, and care of the newborn is now being changed by new technoscientific prosthetics and contractual arrangements. Preciado celebrates possibilities for trans-men, who have kept their uterus, and are reconfiguring divisions of techno-reproductive and techno-gestational labor.

Brooding, birthing, and rearing bodies require care work, says Maria Puig de la Bellacasa.  Caring, in Haraway’s words, is “wet, emotional, messy, and demanding of the best thinking one has ever done.”

This exhibit will situate motherhood within the expanded field of multispecies philosophies.  Friction generated by (eco)feminist theory, queer and crip futurity, extinction studies, cyborg anthropology, and postcolonial theory will animate this intersectional project.  We invite submissions of artifacts, images, short films, games, and living matter.  We welcome proposals for performative experiments that illustrate posthuman possibilities for motherhood, reproduction, adoption and surrogacy.  We seek portraits of unconventional, non-binary, and more-than-human families.  We invite artists, writers, filmmakers, activists and thinkers to exhibit work on matters of m/othering while drawing on the fields of aesthetics, literature, DIY biology, theory, and activism.

Submissions including a 500 word project description, or images, and 1 page CV should be made to multispecies.salon@gmail.com by April 1st, 2018.  The first installment of this show will open on September 3rd, 2018, alongside the Anthropocene Campus in Melbourne, Australia. Elements of the exhibit will then travel to the US, Europe, and beyond. Visit the website labae.org for updates.

Co-curated by Ida Bencke (Copenhagen / Berlin), Eben Kirksey (Melbourne), Marnia Johnston (San Francisco), Nina Nichols (Los Angeles), Karin Bolender (Oregon) and Krista Dragomer (New York City)