…My Dear Liver: Aesthetics and Ethics of Bio-Art

Cigerim Benim translated as My Dear Liver from Turkish is an expression of friendship, bond and intimacy.

The symposium My Dear Liver will take place in Istanbul in the restaurant Ciger-i-stanbul. Translated from the Ottoman Persian, this expression has two meanings: a literal one that means Liver of Istanbul and a poetical and metaphorical one that means Friend of Istanbul.

In the tradition of the symposium - as a meeting of friends sharing bonds and thoughts on philosophical and artistic issues - the first evening of this two day event will see Prof. Gunalan Nadarajan and Dr. Irina Aristarkhova participate in a discussion on art theory and practice as well as curatorial issues in contemporary bio-art. The conversation will focus on the aesthetics and ethics of bio-art and the changes and challenges to traditional cultural and artistic frameworks.

On the second day there will be two formal lectures in the Biology Lab at Sabanci University: Prof. Nadarajan's lecture is titled Of Cat Pianos and Stomach Sculptures: The Art of Biomachinic Interfaces and Dr. Irina Aristarkhova's lecture is titled Hosting the Transgenic Animal: The Work of Kathy High. All are welcomed and no registration is required.



18:00 to 20:00 May 12, 2010, My Dear Liver: Aesthetics and Ethics of Bio-Art - A conversation

An informal meeting will take place at Ciger-i-stanbul in Taksim May 12, 2010, from 18:00 to 20:00. A conversation will take place between the audience and Prof. Gunalan Nadarajan, Dr. Irina Aristarkhova and Prof. Lanfranco Aceti. The event is free but you will have to register because there is limited seating. To reserve seats please email: Ebru Surek; ebrusurek@sabanciuniv.edu

18:00 to 18:45 May 13, 2010, Of Cat Pianos and Stomach Sculptures: The Art of Biomachinic Interfaces - Lecture

The lecture by Prof. Nadarajan seeks to provide a brief historical and conceptual overview of artistic explorations of biomachinic interfaces. It will be argued that biomachinic interfaces have been a source of cultural and ethical anxiety insofar as they complicate the distinctions between a biological entity and a machine.

18:45 to 19:30 May 13, 2010, Hosting the Transgenic Animal: The Work of Kathy High - Lecture

The lecture by Dr. Irina Aristarkhova will provide a short survey of bio-art focusing specifically on artists who use transgenic animals. The question of the animal will then been raised in relation to the growing body of philosophical work (Derrida in particular) devoted to the concept of hospitality, as well as philosophy and practice of ahimsa (non-violence) in Jainism. Aristarkhova will explore what it means to host the animal in art, ethically and aesthetically, using Kathy High's art project 'Embracing Animals' as a case study.



18:00 to 20:00 May 12, 2010, Ciger-i-stanbul, Sehit Muhtar Mahallesi Mis Sokak No: 26 Taksim

18:00 to 19:30 May 13, 2010, Sabanci Universitesi, Muhendislik ve Doga Bil.Fakultesi BioLab 2053


Bios of the Participants

Gunalan Nadarajan, an art theorist and curator from Singapore, is Vice Provost for Research at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Arts). Prior to joining MICA, Gunalan was Professor of Art and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at the College of Arts and Architecture, Penn State University. His publications include Ambulations (2000), Construction Site (edited; 2004) and Contemporary Art in Singapore (co-authored; 2007), Place Studies in Art, Media, Science and Technology: Historical Investigations on the Sites and Migration of Knowledge (co-edited; 2009) and Handbook of Visual Culture (co-edited; forthcoming, 2010) and numerous catalogue essays and academic articles. His writings have been translated into Mandarin, Indonesian, Korean, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Romanian, Serbian, Russian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish. Gunalan has curated twenty international exhibitions including Ambulations (Singapore), 180KG (Jogjakarta), Negotiating Spaces (Auckland) media_city 2002 (Seoul) and DenseLocal (Mexico City). He was contributing curator for Documenta XI (Kassel, Germany), the Singapore Biennale (2006) and served on the jury of a number of international exhibitions, like ISEA2004 (Helsinki / Talinn), transmediale 05 (Berlin), ISEA2006 (San Jose) and FutureEverything Festival (Manchester). He was Artistic Co-Director of the Ogaki Biennale 2006, an international exhibition of media arts in Japan and Artistic Director of ISEA2008 (International Symposium on Electronic Art) in Singapore. Gunalan's current research interests include contemporary painting, art and biology, human-machine interfaces, robotic arts and toys.

Irina Aristarkhova writes on and teaches courses in new media aesthetics, cyberculture, and feminist theory. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Women's Studies and Visual Arts at the Pennsylvania State University, USA. Formerly, Aristarkhova was at the Communications and New Media Programme, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, where she founded the Cyberarts Research Initiative: a collaborative multi-disciplinary research project that included a cyberarts multi-media database, artist-in-residence programmes and a cyberarts library. Aristarkhova has edited and contributed to the bookWoman Does Not Exist: Contemporary Studies in Sexual Difference, and edited the first Luce Irigaray book in RussianThe Ethics of Sexual Difference. She holds an MA from the University of Warwick, UK, and a PhD from the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Lanfranco Aceti is an academic, artist and curator. He is Visiting Professor at Goldsmiths College, department of Computing, London; teaches Contemporary Art and Digital Culture at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Sabanci University, Istanbul, and is Editor in Chief of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (the MIT Press, Leonardo journal and ISAST). His work has been published in Leonardo, Routledge and Art Inquiry and his interdisciplinary research focuses on the intersection between digital arts, visual culture and new media technologies. He is also the Artistic Director and Conference Chair for ISEA2011 Istanbul.


My Dear Liver: Aesthetics and Ethics of Bio-Art Organizational Team

Event organizer:

Ebru Surek

Location manager:

Can Sen

Organizational assistants:

Sevgi Aka and Gokce Elif Baykal

Poster design:

Deniz Cem Onduygu


Gokce Elif Baykal


Barbaros Gokdemir