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bioart coven

Surveying and creating at the intersection of contemporary witchcraft and biotechnologies

How can present-day witchcraft lead to important new practices of bioart, technofeminism and transhacktivism?

• 14. April - 12. May 2021
• Online!
• Five-weeks, Wednesdays, 8-10PM CET
• Small class of participants


Pricing (For tickets click here)
Artist / Student (Full Time)*
€175

Freelancer*
€195

Professional*
€215

Generous Supporter Ticket*
€255

Solidarity ticket*
Donation (Limited)


course
description

Witches gain access to protected spaces through deviant pathways, twisted beings that they are. Are they twisted to begin with, or do they become distorted through necessity for such navigational means? This course will examine some of the historical underpinnings of, and resultant contemporary responses to, convoluted institutional restrictions around science and technologies concerned with the sexed body. Specifically, how present-day witches wend their ways around these structures, which are embedded with and reinforced by (colonial) capitalist modes of knowledge specialization and social classism.

Drawing predominantly on works of feminist scholars and witchcraft historiographers, we will explore how ideas about patriarchal capitalism have wrought a prominent, new witchy identity: artists who deliberately bend technologies towards counterhegemonic ends, revelling in the shapeshifting ‘witch’ as a natural fit for propagating circuitous access to high-tech manipulations of biological (and biotech knowledge) systems.

The importance of dissecting the sociocultural establishment and continued maintenance of a patriarchal ‘normal’ as it pertains to control of knowledge around biology and health care, is evermore salient as new biotechnologies are constantly developed faster than policies to mediate them. Also important to understand, is the subsequent medicalized and moralized othering of anyone who strays from the norm—through a process called deviantization.

In this five-week course, we will engage with the practices of bioartists, technofeminists and transhacktivists who work with materiality and mutability through tech magic. Through them, we will explore some key themes: posthuman interspecies relationships, transmogrification through tech, body materials as transgressive media, postnatural constructions of bodies, and spell-crafting.

Inspired by these artists and their works, together we will work hands on with kitchen science techniques to craft our own beautiful glass petri dishes from recycled materials, create microbial soups and self-portraits through at-home, DIY bacteria culture techniques, co-author the Bioart Coven manifesto through DIT (do-it-together) spellcasting, and toast to our successes by sharing our own home brews and recipes through an online closing ritual. There may be an opportunity for the future publication of some of the course artifacts we create together.

In this course you will be introduced to
· the world of (bio)technofeminist witchcraft
· how to reclaim deviance as a tool of contemporary witchcraft
· DIY hardware and wetware kitchen lab techniques
· co-authoring spells and making rituals
· kitchen science: microbial brewing and petri dish culturing using grocery store materials
· automatic membership in the Bioart Coven


course outline

Week 1: Introductions

This first act is about getting to know each other and learning about everyone’s background and expectations. What brought you to this course? What is it that you hope to learn and practice? Next, we’ll introduce the course itself and expected outcomes. Finally, we'll discuss Materiality and Mutability in Tech Magic – artists working with bodily changeability as transmogrification, body materials as transgressive media, and some of the health benefits of bodily autonomy.

Week 2: Feminist Fermentation

During the first half of the class, focus is on historical brewmasters (witches) leading to contemporary feminists who use the metaphor and methods of fermentation for agitating change. We'll also discuss ‘what is human?' and touch on ideas of the abject (Kristeva), disembodied material, the microbial self, and the illusion of separation.

The second half will be about making your own ferments/ deviant cultures (drawing on the expertise, if any, within the group of participants). A kombucha demo/ recipe + survey of artworks using the pellicule will lead to the question, 'is it collaboration?' We'll also discuss other fermentation-based art projects that lead us to ponder the instrumentalization of bodies/ women’s bodies/ animal bodies.

Week 3: Playing with the Microbial 'Body'

This class will focus on two workshops. Workshop 1: DIY hardware – craft your own funky and reusable glass petri dishes with found glass and an easy to source tool.

Workshop 2: DIY Agar Plates (kitchen science) using materials sourced from the grocery store and mixing up unconventional nutrient substitutes. We'll demo body swabbing methods, soil sample dilution method, plate streaking methods (from swabs and liquid dilutions) and then let them grow!

Week 4: Double, Double, Toil and Trouble: Doubling the Self

This week, we'll start off with our microbiology follow up show-and-tell, and talk about what steps to take next for amplification and purification of your 'wild' cultures. Then, we'll move on in the second half to discuss mammalian tissue culture and the construction of 'bodies'. What are current multispecies entanglements in tech? And in multi-speciation, what organism takes precedent? In the latter part of the class, the focus is on Self as Material and looking at feminist performance art that investigates bodies, as well as artists experimenting via themselves using biotech rituals/performance.

Week 5: Spell-Crafting and the Bioart Coven Manifesto

We end with Manipulating Forces: What is a spell and how can we craft them for change? We'll examine existing technofeminist definitions of spells, spell-casting for change, and work together to write part of the Bioart Coven Manifesto and discuss possibilities for publication. The course will end with a closing ritual we all perform together.


who is this
class for?

This program is for artists and makers; witches, witchcraft enthusiasts and feminists; technophiles, hackers, and citizen scientists; students and curious, open minded thinkers; women, trans and nonbinary individuals and allies. Come join us. Enthusiastic like-minded community included. No experience necessary.


about live classes

Classes are 'live' meaning that you can directly interact with the instructor as well as with the other participants from around the world. Classes will also be recorded for playback in case you are unable to attend for any reason. That said, we kindly ask that you please only purchase a ticket if you plan to attend regularly. For specific questions, please email us and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.


about fees

We realise we're living in uncertain times. During this time, we are offering a limited number of pay-what-you-can solidarity tickets for this online class. These are reserved for women, POC, and LGBTQ+ who would otherwise be unable to attend. We are a small organisation with no outside funding and like many, we are also in survival mode and we ask you to consider this when making your donation.

Note: Due to the fact that we are receiving way more requests for Solidarity tickets than we can accommodate, we ask that after you have taken 3 that you please purchase a regular ticket in order to make them available to other people. Also, please note that we may send a follow-up email asking you to confirm your eligibility for these tickets. We are trying to make our classes accessible to as many people as possible and greatly appreciate your understanding and support.


about tickets

Tickets for this class are currently available via Eventbrite. If you would like to avoid Eventbrite fees, please email us for direct payment options. We kindly ask that all “pay-what-you-can” students register through Eventbrite. Due to reduced staffing, we’re unable to handle specific payment requests for these registrations.


meet the
instructor