25th Art Division Excellence Award
It is a research project and performance that uses a serum, gained out of the artist’s own blood, to reproduce her muscle cells that had prior been extracted. The performance, which is conducted against a background of projection of documentation of the laboratory process, consists of three parts: a scene in which the artist cuts up raw meat as a reenactment of her own biopsy, a dialogue between the artist and an artificial persona of a cell grown in the laboratory using a machine learning model, and a scene in which the artist cooks and eats her own meat cultured in the laboratory. The living cultured meat based on human tissue shifts normative borders and dissolves the consumerist hierarchies between humans and animals to suggest a new perspective on food supply. The work questions the future of fleshy food in a post-anthropocentric society of ubiquitous biotechnology and the understanding of the human as a food product, challenging the inviolability of the human body and criticizes capitalist meat production at the same time.
Reason for Award
Cell-engineered cannibalism is eating cultured meat, which is made using one’s own tissue. It was something researchers have half-jokingly discussed. Unlike them, the artist challenged the cultural premises surrounding the body and foods with such realism by telling a story through a provocative performance of eating an experimental prototype, the cultured meat made from her own cells and blood. What is particularly interesting is that the performance took advantage of the argument around the medium composition for growing cell cultures: a premise that does not involve animal sacrifice while blood serum of cow’s embryos is used to propagate mammalian cells in its actuality. This premise has been an obstacle in the cultured meat industry. Using one’s own blood for culturing one’s own cells is a cell-engineered version of cannibalism, which has not been discussed in the past. In biology, the artificial environment for growing a population of cells is called a growth medium. This work is fraught with controversy in that it involves multiple self-references and equivocalness of “medium,” including the duality represented in the use of blood as a living body medium and as a growth medium. (IWASAKI Hideo)