The Absence of Alice and the Elasticity of the Almost was the fifth instance within The Absence of Alice series. The works developed for this exhibition were researched and developed during a three month residency at SymbioticA, Centre of Excellence in the Biological Arts at the University of Western Australia in 2010.
The works comment on the isolation of primary cells from two fetal calves and reflects the horror and wonder of the cell isolation process.
The artist explains:
During the residency, I obtained two fetal calves, Kira (girl) and Rama (boy), from an abattoir. Even though they had been dead for at least a day, I was still able to successfully isolate and culture their skin cells in the laboratory. I removed their organs and packed their bodies in a salt compound in an effort to mummify them. While the calves’ cells were successfully preserved and frozen, waiting for revival and later immortalisation, the bodies of the calves had to be destroyed, as the crates they were packed into cracked under the weight of the salt and started to ooze blood and body fluid. SymbioticA residents and staff salvaged their hearts, hide and some of the original salt compound originally used to preserve the bodies. These elements were incorporated into various exhibition elements included in the show. The exhibition essentially tells the story of the isolation process and the loss of the bodies of the calves.
The exhibition includes an interactive video installation and several smaller sculptural works.
The works developed for this instance within The Absence of Alice series, were researched and developed during a residency at SymbioticA, centre of Excellence in the Biological Arts at UWA in Perth.
Completion of works would not be possible without the support from SymbioticA and UWA Staff. Special thanks to Oron Catts, Dr Ionat Zurr, Jane Coakley, David Khang, Ben Forster and Dr Pernille Leth-Espensen. Thank you also to Michael Riddle from QUT for assistance with artwork production.