Margherita Pevere, Wombs (W .02 and W .03)
Wombs _W .02 _ W .03
Bodies are unsealed, unstable, leaky. The fluids in our cells connect us to the deep waters of time, where molecules are digested, accumulated, and excreted in a flow of mucus, sweat and urine. Our leaky materiality entwines our everyday choices with those of a multitude of other bodies in bonds of mutual vulnerability. The series Wombs meditates on sexuality and hormonal contraception from a more-than-human perspective through interconnected interventions of biological art, performances, and photography.
The project reclaims the importance of hormonal contraception and therapy. Sex steroids in hormonal contraceptives modulate human sexual organs to prevent pregnancy. Yet, the same molecules may trigger the endocrine system of other organisms. On that basis, Wombs wonders how the progestine-based contraceptive I take may link my body to other, more-than-human bodies. By reappropriating vulnerability and toxic embodiment, Wombs prompts a critical rethinking of the discourses on sexuality and contraception as a human-only experience enclosed in one’s body.
In W.02 and W.03, slugs are hermaphroditic allies in the exploring the inner and outer ecologies of fleshy desire. Whether terrestrial slugs are affected by mammalian sex steroids is a unresolved grey zone in scientific knowledge. Different species of slugs display elaborate mating behaviours, such as hanging choreographies or shooting love darts into the partner’s body. The photographic seriesW. 03 stems from my performance with a leopard slug named Branko. In the performance, I lie on the floor while Branko slides on my back in a silent interplay of mucus, skin texture, bones, cavities.
The organ-like distorted glassware was created for the non/living installationW. 02to host slug egg cells and my vaginal epithelial cells in a hybrid ecosystem. Borosilicate glass is a heavy-duty glass suitable for autoclaving, and thereforce it is a crucial element in biolab work. Procedures such as starting a new culture through inoculation, controlling its parameters during culturing, or killing it by autoclaving become rituals aimed at discipline and negotiation with living matter. Glassware objects become extra-bodily organs: wombs, hearts, bladders. The distorted glassware inW .02celebrates the vulnerable negotiation with living matter and scientific tools of the biolab.
Wombs is part of Pevere’s practice-based PhD research at Aalto University, Helsinki, supported by the Finnish National Agency for Education and the Kone Foundation.
Preliminary research at Biofilia Laboratory – Base for Biological Arts, Aalto University
W .02 and W .03 are realized within the framework of the European Media Art Platforms EMARE program at KONTEJNER | bureau of contemporary art praxis, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
Biotechnological advisor: Gjino Šutić – UR Institute
Flameworking: Ivanka Pašalić – Association Staklenj svjiet
Photography: Sanjin Kaštelan
Margherita Pevere is an internationally acknowledged artist and PhD candidate at Aalto ARTS with a focus on biological arts and feminist theory.
Her transdisciplinary inquiry hybridizes biolab practice, biotechnology, ecology, gender and death studies, creating with a hacking approach visceral installations and performances that seek to hunt down today’s surging ecological complexity. Her body of work is a garden crawling with genetically edited bacteria, her epithelial cells, sex hormones, microbial biofilm, bovine blood, slugs, growing plants and decomposing biological remains.
She would not be the artist she is today without extensive collaborations across different disciplines in art, science and humanities. Together with Marco Donnarumma and Andrea Familari, she co-founded the artists’ group Fronte Vacuo to realize performances made of bodies, symbionts, sounds, machines and images.
She is member of the Finnish Bioart Society and of The Posthumanities Hub. Recent accolades include the EMAP/EMARE production grant. Her PhD at Aalto ARTS is supported by the Finnish National Agency for Education and the Kone Foundation.
Interview with Margherita Pevere
This interview is conducted with Margherita Pevere by Bilge Hasdemir as part of the Outre: Encounters with Non/living Things exhibition.