The performance Que le cheval vive en moi (May the horse live in me) is an extreme, medical self-experiment with a blood-brotherhood beyond species boundaries. With this performance, the French duo Art Orienté objet calls for greater ecological responsibility from humans, whose technologies increasingly instrumentalize other animals and plants. The artist Marion Laval-Jeantet has turned herself into a proverbial “guinea pig,” allowing herself to be injected over the course of several months with horse immunoglobulins (glycoproteins that function as antibodies in immune response) and thus developing a progressive tolerance to these foreign animal bodies.
In February 2011, having built up her tolerance, she was able to be injected with horse blood plasma containing the entire spectrum of foreign immunoglobulins, without falling into anaphylactic shock—the intention being that the horse immunoglobulin would by-pass the defensive mechanisms of her own human immune system, enter her blood stream to bond with the proteins of her own body and, as a result of this synthesis, have an effect on all major body functions. Immunoglobulins are biochemical messengers that control, for example, the glands and organs of the endocrine system, which is also closely tied to the nervous system, so that the artist, during and in the weeks after the performance, experienced not only alterations in her physiological rhythm but also of her consciousness, characterized by heightened sensibility and nervousness.
After the transfusion, Marion Laval-Jeantet, on stilts, performed a communication ritual with a horse before her hybrid blood was extracted and freeze-dried. This risky undertaking alludes to the possibility of healing autoimmune diseases using foreign immunoglobulins as therapeutic “boosters”. Here, as the artists maintain, “the animal becomes the future of the human”. As a radical experiment whose long-term effects cannot be calculated, Que le cheval vive en moi questions the anthropocentric attitude inherent to our technological understanding. Instead of trying to attain “homeostasis,” a state of physiological balance, with this performance, the artists sought to initiate a process of “synthetic transi-stasis”, in which the only constant is continual transformation and adaptation. The performance represents a continuation of the centaur myth, that human-horse hybrid which, as “animal in human”, symbolizes the antithesis of the rider, who as human dominated the animal.
Due to the high symbolic value of this animal, the duo would like to reenact the performance, this time with the panda. This performance would be entitled May The Panda Live in me. This is the scenario they introduce to the Ethics Committee. The French duo Art Orienté objet has been creating works concerned with the environment, trans-species relationships and the questioning of scientific methods and tools since 1991.
The French duo Art Orienté objet has been creating works concerned with the environment, trans-species relationships and the questioning of scientific methods and tools since 1991.
Please note this event will take place in French. More information, or ask the artists a question, at:
The event takes place Thursday 31st May at 6:30pm in the Salle des Actes, École normale supérieure, 45, rue d’Ulm 75005 Paris, France. The event is free, seats are limit.
About the series Trust me, I'm an artist
This series of public events, taking place in international settings, investigate the new ethical issues arising from art and science collaboration and consider the roles and responsibilities of the artists, scientists and institutions involved. At each event (before a live audience) an internationally known artist will propose an artwork to a specially formed ethics committee (following the rules and procedures typical for the host country), the ethics committee will then debate the proposal and come to a decision, the artist will then be informed of the ethics committee’s decision and, alongside the audience, they can enter into a discussion about the result.
The proposals have been selected as they raise interesting questions for science ethics committees and will help reveal the mechanisms that drive this usually hidden process, enabling the wider public to understand the driving forces behind ethical decisions and the role of artists working in scientific settings more deeply.
The project “Trust Me I’m an Artist: Towards an Ethics of Art/Science Collaboration” is led by artist Anna Dumitriu in collaboration with Professor Bobbie Farsides (Chair of Ethics, Brighton and Sussex Medical School) in collaboration with Waag, Leiden University and BioSolar Cells. Follow the links above to view the events, videos and other documentation.