Feminist Collaborations Across Arts and Bioscience Technologies

8 December 2021, 10:00:00 pm

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Session Convenors

WhiteFeather Hunter, PhD Candidate, SymbioticA / University of Western Australia
Molly McKinney, Independent Scholar, American Nurses Association / American Holistic Nurses Association

Session Moderators

WhiteFeather Hunter, PhD Candidate, SymbioticA / University of Western Australia
Molly McKinney, Independent Scholar, American Nurses Association / American Holistic Nurses Association

Session Speakers

Klau Chinche, Independent Researcher
Serina Tarkhanian, Independent Researcher
Frog Wing, Independent Researcher

This panel will explore some of the impacts of feminist collaboration across the fields of art and science, with a particular focus on the use and/or critique of biotechnologies. Inter-, cross- and trans-disciplinary collaborations provide fertile ground for expanding necessary dialogue around technological tools and their broad social applicability in the arts and sciences. Collaborative, subversive use of (bio)technologies can intersect or interrupt capitalist and/or colonial agendas that impact women’s, queer and other non-normative bodies. Biotechnologies also include so-called low-tech approaches, including lay/folk medicine or biohacking, grassroots pharmacology and creative revivals of ancestral herbalism, and medico-spiritual techniques of community care. Technologies concerned with the body as a nexus of tinkering and transformation are presented as case studies, art projects and/or points of critical debate. Feminist concerns such as: the instrumentalization of bodies and the exploitation of women and others as subjects for high tech development; body colonization/ de-colonization; as well as differences in ethical approaches in the arts and the sciences are some of the core issues we will raise. This panel will focus on intersectional approaches that highlight how technological instrumentalization/ exploitation most impacts and relies on certain marginalized groups.

PAPER #1
Riot of Bodies: Gynepunk toolkits, radical networks and performative strategies around Ob/Gyn violence

PRESENTER
Klau Chinche, Independent Researcher

Gynepunk is a transhackfeminist cell: an independent research and practice of the effects and interconnections of health, technology, gender and difference; a cultural disruptor project, with an artivist hacker influence and background; a political experimentation to explore and critique embodied effects of biotechnologies' intersections. Through video, performance, zines, workshops, labware, digital archive, alchemy and self-defense tools, it’s an experience: a didactic coexistence; a visceral riot; interrelated digital organs; an ephemeral, ambulatory meeting place to share, exchange, and learn from our ailments, strengths, accidents, chronic conditions; a listening space, composed of open branches that need infrastructure and funding to continue to develop, grow, expand and mutate. We also will discuss Gynepunk ghosts, failure practices, media instrumentalization, academic vampirism, migratory glitches and fractal disruptions.

PAPER #2
Co-Healing and the Politics of Microbial Fluids

PRESENTER
Serina Tarkhanian, Independent Researcher

A politics of antimicrobiality has characterised Western approaches to healthcare since germ theory was established by European scientists in the late 19th century. Since that time, medical and pharmacological enterprises have engaged in the quest for pathogenic immunity, a notion which now pervades all aspects of human life. Although current research has begun to re-evaluate human-microbial relationships, medical microbiopolitics continue to shape dysbiotic bodies – divorced from an understanding of our multispeciated nature. Against this reality, and against rising health inequities produced by biomedicine’s colonial/ patriarchal heritage, what new forms of healthing might enable people to reclaim biopower? Designer-researcher Serina Tarkhanian will unpack the politics around novel microbiome transplant treatments, offering an alternative vision of how microbiome treatments might be designed through the lens of feminist care ethics. Tarkhanian materialises this through a more-than-antimicrobial health praxis in The Microbial Bathhouse project, which explores microbial co-healing and how notions of immunity can be reconciled with deep human and microbial presence that extends beyond capitalist incentives of medical innovation. Tarkhanian will share her hybrid design approach, informed by ethnographic methods and vernacular health practices, talking through the complexities of transhacktivist artists and designers emerging as new care practitioners in their own rights.

PAPER #3
Navigating Contemporary Ecological Concerns via Traditional Dongba Culture

PRESENTER
Frog Wing, Independent Researcher

Dongba-ism is a polytheistic, pagan folk belief-system and traditional practice of the Naxi ethnic group in Southwest China. Maintenance and survival of Dongba culture relies on regular conduct of rituals led by Dongba shaman-priests (always male practitioners). Dongba priests conduct rituals for the purpose of communicating and negotiating between human societies and Nature-Spirits, which reside in the host landscapes of the Yunnan-Sichuan regions. Some examples of Nature-Spirits include: water, mountains, wind, plants, animals, etc. As a Taiwanese-American artist at the Lijiang Studio residency, Qingwa (Frog) engaged in a long-term (approx. 7 years: 2013-2020) performance-art piece, studying Dongba-ism as a non-Naxi, American-born, female apprentice. During the course of her studies, the artist addressed multiple points of conflict, including problems of: cultural appropriation, landscape-blindness, and alienation of urbanized/ modernized/ globalized societies. This experiment, while initially conducted to examine gender roles and the pedagogical process of shaman-priest training, eventually reveals other questions related to ecological identity, theological cross-definitions and cultural boundaries, and the relevance of national and ethnic perspectives in ontological examinations of Dongba. This work was previously presented at the Landscape Ecology and Urban Sustainability Conference (LEUS) in 2019.

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Biographies

WhiteFeather Hunter, PhD Candidate, SymbioticA / University of Western Australia

WhiteFeather Hunter is a multiple award-winning Canadian artist and scholar. She is a PhD candidate in Biological Art at SymbioticA/ The University of Western Australia, supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, Australian Government International RTP Scholarship and UWA International Postgraduate Scholarship. Before commencing her PhD, Hunter was a founding member and Principal Investigator of the Speculative Life BioLab at Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University. Hunter’s practice intersects technofeminist witchcraft and biotechnologies with performance, new media, and textiles. Her current research was featured by Sigma/ Merck for International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2021.


Molly McKinney, Independent Scholar, American Nurses Association / American Holistic Nurses Association

Molly McKinney is a Registered Nurse and paramedic, residing in Montana. They hold an MSc in public health, numerous professional certifications, and are a member of the American Nurses Association, American Holistic Nurses Association, and Emergency Nurses Association. McKinney has worked in healthcare settings across the US, while performing independent research that investigates embodied experiences in health cultures, institutional relationships of power that affect these experiences, and bodies as sites of resistance to and redefinition of this power. Their work draws from multiple academic theories as well as personal experience and is grounded in the material experience of the body.


Klau Chinche, Independent Researcher

Klau Chinche holds a Bachelor of Arts and Studies on Philosophy and History of Religions, and is skilled in audiovisual free software technologies (radio, video editing, graphics). Chinche has been agitating AnarchaGlam and Gynepunk projects since 2014-2015, is co-founder of PECHBLENDA lab, and co-creator of the THE DARK-CABARET "Doctora Kaligari's Cabinet". Cinche organized gender and free software technologies festival, Generatech; was part of post-porn film festival, Muestra Marrana; and lived/worked for 7 years in the the ecoindustrial community of Calafou (ES). Chinche has offered workshops, presentations, discussions and performances in art institutions, universities, festivals, and autonomous spaces, worldwide.


Serina Tarkhanian, Independent Researcher

Serina Tarkhanian is a Canadian-Armenian designer/researcher whose work explores contemporary issues around care and social conditions of health and well-being. Through a design anthropological approach, she investigates relations between embodied knowledges, their embedded rituals, materiality, and design. Her projects often take the form of body-on experiences that support citizen science and reclaiming biopower. Along with the development of ‘microbial co-healing’ tools and spaces, her design research project, The Microbial Bathhouse, delves into biopolitics of microbes, medicine, and pharmacology. She is a graduate (2020) of Social Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven (Cum Laude, Best Thesis Award, Gijs Bakker Award nominee).


Frog Wing, Independent Researcher

Frog Wing (a.k.a. Rana, Dava, Frog the Parhelia) (any pronouns) is a research-based interdisciplinary artist-performer born in Monterey Park, California. Frog works seasonally at Lijiang Studio, an art residency based in Yunnan, China, where they observe and practice rituals with Naxi Dongba shaman-priests. In 2016, they received the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) Fellowship to study shamanism in Mongolia as a visual artist. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, they've been living in Mount Kisco, New York, where they make paintings, tend gardens, and work as a florists' assistant. Rana is founder/ editor of SunDogs Studio, an experimental micropress and production company.