© Wagenigen Electron Microscopy Center and Ana María Gómez López

Self-experimentation as artistic form

How do artists use their bodies in the pursuit of a creative and intellectual inquiries? Borrowing the term “self-experimentation” – a long-standing tradition of scientists testing hypotheses, remedies, and prototypes on themselves – this event explores body-based, durational artworks as an equivalent form of embodied research, ranging from corporeal interventions and endurance performance to bio-art and ecological interactions.

Self-experimentation – the use of one’s body to gather information, observe a specific phenomenon, or develop an innovation first-hand – is a shared mode of operation for artistic and scientific practitioners alike. In both contexts, self-experimenters have pushed the boundaries of vital compromise and disciplinary reach, prompting broader debates on methodological tenets, societal conventions, and ethical responsibilities.

This event centers specifically on three artworks that can be considered self-experiments in their own right: Springtime (2010-2011) by Jeroen Eisinga, Inoculate (2013-2014) by Ana María Gómez López, and Skotopoiesis (2015) by Špela Petrič . While belonging to different genres, each of the artists used their own body as a physical substrate to carry out activities such as becoming shrouded by hundreds of thousands of bees, casting a permanent light silhouette onto a field of cress, or growing a seed within the tear duct of an eye. The artists will be present to discuss these works, together with Lucas Evers (Waag Society) and Stéphanie Noach (Leiden University).

About the speakers

Jeroen Eisinga is a visual artist and filmmaker based in the Hague. His work Springtime has been exhibited in multiple national and international venues, such as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto, and the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam. In 2019, Springtime was selected for the exhibition Freedom: Fifty Key Dutch Artworks since 1968 by the Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle.

Ana María Gómez López is an artist and independent scholar. Her work Inoculate was selected for the National Award in Art by the Universidad de Antioquia and the Colombian Ministry of Culture in 2015. She was a fellow at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (2017-2018) and is currently artist-in-residence at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Špela Petrič is an intermedia artist based in Amsterdam with a doctoral degree in biomedicine. Her artistic practice combines natural sciences, new media, and performance. Skotopoiesis has been featured in the academic journal Leonardo (MIT Press) and was exhibited at the Kapelica Gallery in Ljubljana, Slovenia; Het Glazen Huis, in Amstelpark, Amsterdam; and the CLICK Festival in Helsingor, Denmark.

Lucas Evers is head of the art-science programme and the Open Wetlab programme at the Waag Society, Amsterdam. He is actively involved in several projects concerning the arts and sciences, arts and ethics, and the arts in contemporary makers culture. Between 2015 and 2017, he was co-facilitator of Trust Me, I’m an Artist, an international project on the ethics of art-science collaboration supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

Stéphanie Noach is a curator and writer based in Amsterdam. She has served as guest curator at the Havana Biennial, the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, Schloss Ringenberg, and the Museo de Antioquia. She is researching the subject of darkness in contemporary Latin American art as a doctoral candidate at Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society, where she is also currently a lecturer on art and ecology.