Artist filmmaker Lucy Beech joins the working group “Out of Place, Out of Time” as an artist fellow (2020–22). During this time MPIWG is supporting her in the development of a new body of work which focuses on the ecological implications of managing reproduction; linking questions about knowledge and the history of science with discourses on sexuality, contemporary agricultural practice, and the complex remaking of sexual taxonomies, practices, and identities in the context of breeding.
From a broad perspective this research project explores how the complexities of knowledge production in the field of reproductive science can be analyzed and made manifest through artistic production. In more focused terms the project explores histories, technologies, and regimes of breeding such as visual heat detection, the visceral somatics of artificial insemination which involves stimulation and animal arousal and the supplementation of human hormones to regulate animal reproduction. Using film as a way to record, embody, and analyze these processes, the project will explore the cultural models and sexual taxonomies that are produced by these intimate bodily arrangements and consider how these sexual taxonomies shape human instincts and expectations.
As part of this research Beech is working with Tamar Novick on a collaborative writing project which will go on to form the basis of a script for a performative lecture at SALT Beyoğlu, Istanbul and later a film that blends documentary and fictional material. This project explores the historical study of “freemartinism”; commonly referred to as a gender developmental disorder that produces intersex calves born co-twin to a male. Focusing on the discovery of freemartinism through the historical study of human endocrinology and use of freemartins as heat detectors in contemporary dairy systems (commonly referred to as a Freemartin Gomer) together they investigate what incentives great efforts to transform the freemartins genetic infertility into a valuable industry asset. Based on analysis of industrial farming manuals, scientific publications, discourse analysis of farmers blogs, and “analogue” and “digital heat” detection systems this collaborative project explores the ways in which the freemartins genetic infertility is transformed into a productive asset. Through these intimate bodily arrangements, their investigation contends gender norms, standards of work, and waste-use and natural-artificial boundaries are repeatedly blurred and reestablished.