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Kira O'Reilly


Kira O'Reilly


Making a silk purse out of a sows ear



Kira O'Reilly



The Greek myth of Marsyas became a popular vehicle in European renaissance art with which to express both the anxieties and excitement of accelerated anatomical exploration. Marsyas, a satyr – mixed species human and goat, lost in a competition of musicianship to Apollo, and as punishment was flayed alive, becoming ‘one whole wounde' and rendered ‘into the matter of art'; material, as locus, contextual fabric, a destabilised body indicative of a multiplicity of potent alterities. This mutability of body including species boundary collapse has been an enduring preoccupation from ancient times to the post-digital contemporary.

These themes echo the speed of innovations within contemporary biotechnical and biomedical practices and are reflective of the concerns my practice of how to be a body - now . This has considered the body as a material and as site, attempting to articulate between the material and the metaphorical, sign and stuff .

Towards this end, new work was researched and developed during a ten month residency at SymbioticA a science art collaborative laboratory within University of Western Australia. Using tissue culturing and engineering techniques working with skin and interweaving traditional lace making methods. By appropriating and cross contaminating the technologies of biotechnology and traditional craft, anxieties around the body's destabilised status in the light of accelerating scientific innovation were explored.





Kira O'Reilly is a UK based artist. Her practice stems from a fine art background employing performance, video, installation, and more recently and biotechnical practices with which to consider the body as material and site in which narrative threads of the personal, sexual, social and political knot and unknot in shifting permutations. Since graduating from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff in 1998 with a BA(HONS) in Fine Art, her work has been exhibited widely throughout the UK and Europe. She has been invited to Australia and more recently Hong Kong where she performed new work at the British Council platform Live Wire 2004. She has also presented her work widely speaking at conferences and symposia including BioDifference conference Biennial of Electronic Art, Perth 2004. She has also worked as a part time lecturer and visiting lecturer in the UK and Australia. In October 2004 she completed an honorary research fellowship and artist in residence at SymbioticA, the art science collaborative research lab, School of Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia, funded by a Wellcome Trust SCIART research and development award. She was concerned with exploring convergence between contemporary biotechnical tissue culturing and traditional lace making crafts, using the materiality of skin at its cellular level as material and metaphor. Her research in this area continues as does developing performative investigations of some of the tendrils and tangents that arose during this period of research.


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