LASER Talks at Vienna: The Afterlife of Foreskins

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THE AFTERLIFE OF FORESKINS Part of Vienna Art Week This LASER talk will not focus on humanist aspects of circumcision but rather interpret the immaterial work of the foreskin cells from the perspective of posthumanism, new materialism and the bioarts to foreground transmaterial aspects and transversal subjectivities.

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Part of Vienna Art Week 

Today, liberal conceptions of the body allow the transformation of bodily material and wastes into technical tools, biological resources and artworks. A complex mix of data information and biological material, the latter of no intrinsic meaning, circulates and is exchanged. This LASER talk will not focus on humanist aspects of circumcision but rather interpret the immaterial work of the foreskin cells from the perspective of posthumanism and new materialism to foreground transmaterial aspects and transversal subjectivities. It will explain the conditions under which detached foreskin cells survive and what specific potential they have.  It interprets these transformations as representing new forms of life that are part of a community, with new relationships opening up new possibilities for thinking about space, territory and the public domain.  To critically reframe such immaterial labor of the foreskin, the talk will differentiate necropolitics from a thanatopolitical context, as well as will drawing on bioartists' work with mammalian tissue. To show the contrariness of conserved life a performative session with living foreskin cells will be held during the LASER talk.

CHAIRS: Klaus Spiess and Ingeborg Reichle  

Contributions (15 minutes each):

Commoning Foreskin Cells as Material Trans-Subjectivities, Klaus Spiess (A), directs the Art&Science program at the Center of Public Health, Medical University Vienna. His work focuses on biopolitics of bodily fluids and microbe-language relations. 

Immortalized Foreskin Cells as Collaborators, Michael Mildner (A), is an Assoc. Professor and Cell-Biologist at the Vienna Medical University. He works with foreskin cells concerning their potentialities in research on aging, programmed cell death and enzyme production.

More Human than Human? – Life as Death, Marina Grzinic (SI), is a Full Professor of Conceptual Art at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.  Her work focuses on the difference between necropolitics and thanatopolitics.

Being a Good Host – Providing and Caring for Foreskin Cells, Johannes Zipperle (A), is a researcher at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Experimental and Clinical Traumatalogy, Vienna, together with Bozhidar Baltov (BG), MSc Tissue Engineering  (Nutritional Performance).

Heavy Make-Up, Roland Rauschmeier (DE),/Klaus Spiess (A). Roland  is an artist and performer. His works focus on ‘toxic masculinity’, an issue which appears in his performances on the ‘Cannibal of Rothenburg’ and recently on ‘Timon of Athens’. (Art Performance and 3 days installation).

Bare Life in the Bioarts, Ingeborg Reichle (DE), is a Full Professor and the Chair of the Dept. of Media Theory at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. Her work focuses on bioartistic media. 



Guy Ben-Ary  'In Potentia'' (2014).  In collaboration with SymbioticA, University of Western Australia 


In-Potentia, Guy-Ben Ary (AUS), is an artist at SymbioticA, University of Western Australia, Perth. In his work ‘In Potentia’ he has differentiated stem cells from human foreskin cells to brain cells (Video Presentation and Artist Skype talk).







LASER (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) Talks is Leonardo's international program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversations. LASER Talks were founded in 2008 by Bay Area LASER Chair Piero Scaruffi and are in over 30 cities around the world. To learn more about how our LASER Hosts and to visit a LASER near you please visit our website

The mission of the LASERs is to provide the general public with a snapshot of the cultural environment of a region and to foster interdisciplinary networking.

November 18th, 2019 5:00 PM through  8:00 PM