Body of Waste

A Research Project initiated by Guest professor and artist filmmaker Lucy Beech with group of collaborators. The project is being developed during Beech's fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and has evolved from an interest in the use of bodily waste as a resource material for biomedical fertility drugs.

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Film still: image Courtesy the artist Lucy Beech

Each aspect of the project explores the fate of bodies and materials; human and non-human, that don't fit easily into an established order – whether industrial, social or biological. The project stems from research into processes that extend the life of material resources as instigated by environmental and reproductive scientists, agriculturalists, and queer poets and writers. Practitioners involved in the project are incorporating bodily waste and other discarded materials into their creative/ scientific work and are engaged in thinking about the power dynamics inherent to working with, investing in and conceptualising waste. Through their collaborative work participants involved in this multifaceted project will explore historical legacies of reusing discarded materials across different scientific, environmental and artistic contexts and the ways in which attitudes to waste materials shape infrastructures and norms. The project will manifest initially as a new film which mixes documentary and fictional materials, an event series and publication bringing together newly commissioned work and pre-existing materials produced by the project collaborators.

Body of Waste has been developed in collaboration with writer Dr Cassie Westwood author of the Abject Animal Poetics of the The Warm Decembers (Punctum Books 2017), 'The Queer Art of Ardent Reading' (Raritan, 2021), and 'Humans, and Other Nonsense Animals' (The Edinburgh Companion to Nonsense, 2021) and historian of science Dr Tamar Novick at Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin where Novick leads a working-group on animals and knowledge titled "Out of Place, Out of Time." For more on their collaboration see: Creative Metabolism: Waste in Three Chapters and hosted by the IKF.

Beech will host the research group Working With Waste in September 2022 which is developed out of the Body of Waste project and is conceived as a space for artistic experimentation. The Programme consists of one to one mentorship and a series of lectures, screenings and workshops. Key themes include: hybrid filmmaking, waste politics, care, feminist science and technology studies, temporality, discard studies transdisciplinary and experimental research, hormone biopolitics, interdependence, queer studies, new materialisms. The research group will be accompanied by a public programme bringing together practitioners interested in malfunctioning, discarded and waste materialities.

  • Project Lead: Lucy Beech
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