Lucy Beech is an artist whose practice encompasses filmmaking, writing, and performance. She joins the working group “Out of Place out of Time” as an artist fellow (2019–22). Her current research project focuses on the social, cultural, and ecological implications of managing reproduction. The project will manifest as a series of films that play with conventions of portraiture; set during the current digital revolution in livestock farming where human interpretation of animal sexual behaviors, critical to fertility programming is being replaced by predictive models and “living systems” supported by big data and artificial intelligence. The series of films explore the shifting role that human observation and interpretation serves in the context of animal breeding. Blending reconstructed scenes and documentary material, these works embody changing social dynamics and industry practices for interpreting animal sexuality whilst posing tender questions such as how are affects like desire or pleasure conceptualized in different contexts for different bodies and what role does animality play in the understanding of human reproduction as well as in forming ideas about and constructing gender and sexuality.
As part of this research, Beech is working with Tamar Novick on a collaborative writing project included in “Bovine Regimes: Body Work, Intimacy, and Knowledge.” The outcome of this collaboration will go on to form the script for a performative lecture at SALT Beyoğlu, Istanbul, and later inform aspect of Beech’s screenplay. 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 entanglement of freemartinism with the historical study of human endocrinology, they investigate what incentives great efforts to transform the freemartins genetic infertility into a knowledge producing biotechnology. 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 intimate bodily arrangements and contends gender norms in contexts where standards of work, and waste-use, and natural-artificial boundaries are repeatedly blurred and reestablished.
Forthcoming and recent presentations of Beech’s film and performance work include MADRE—Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina, Naples; SALT Beyoğlu, Istanbul, in collaboration with Cooking Sections and Kunstverein GartenHaus Vienna (all 2021); Biennial Matter of Art, Czech Republic (2020); Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerp (2019); Lafayette Anticipations, Paris; Tramway, Glasgow; De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea (2018); Tate Britain, London (with Edward Thomasson 2017); and the Liverpool Biennial (2016).