Artist Talk – Thomas Feuerstein, Vienna

© Thomas Feuerstein, Foto: Tamara Gezer

On May 8, 2018, the Vienna-based artist Thomas Feuerstein will give an artist talk and present his latest art project: CLUBCANNIBAL: Transubstantiation in the Age of Cellular Economy. CLUBCANNIBAL takes us into the recesses of a new materialism where the human body and its tissues are subjected to radical sustainability. The cannibalism of the future will not derive from amorality or dark evil, but from the principle of autotroph resource utilisation. Autophagy is no longer metonymic with the savage, the uncivilised, and the pre-modern; instead, it is the ethical imperative for a post-human world and reflects the desire to attain a paradisical state of self-containment. CLUBCANNIBAL tells a story that oscillates between science fiction and horror, utopia and dystopia. The project connects sculptures, drawings, and literature with biochemical processes in which human liver cells are cultivated, fermented, and distilled into alcohol.

The liver cells reference the ancient practice of divination by liver or hepatoscopy. The organ that was once deemed the seat of life becomes the exhibition’s point of departure to read humanity’s future in the context of a cellular economy. Transubstantiation — the “real” conversion of bread and wine into flesh and blood in Catholic liturgy — takes on a new meaning. CLUBCANNIBAL is based on the ongoing project PROMETHEUS DELIVERED, first exhibited at HaL in Berlin (2017) and ERES Foundation Munich (2018).

Thomas Feuerstein studied art history and philosophy at the University of Innsbruck, and received his PhD in 1995. From 1992 to 1994 he was co-editor of the magazine Medien. Kunst. Passagen. In 1992 he founded the Office for Intermedia Communication Transfer and the association In 1992 and 1993 he was active in the research commissions of the Austrian Ministry of Science on art in electronic space and art and architecture. Since 1997 he has had assignments as a lecturer as well as a visiting professor at universities and art academies.

Thomas Feuerstein’s work bridges the interface of applied and theoretical science and his projects combine complex bodies of knowledge from philosophy, art history, and literature with biotechnology, economics, and politics to create artistic narratives. His projects examine the interplay between individuality and sociality, research on “molecular sculptures”, formulating the aesthetics of entropy, and developing a “daimonology” of cultural processes. His artworks comprise installations, processual sculptures, drawings, radio plays, bio art, and net art. Some of the crucial aspects are the interplay between verbal and visual elements, the unearthing of latent connections between fact and fiction, as well as the interaction between art and science. For his purposes, Feuerstein has come up with an artistic method he calls “conceptual narration.”

The Guest Lecture Series of Professor Ingeborg Reichle’s lecture course Speculative Biologies: New Directions in Art and Biotechnology is an informative and stimulating opportunity to hear from distinguished artists about what’s going on in the emerging fields of bioart, biodesign, and speculative biology. The Guest Lecture Series also helps our students to build their networks of contacts. Speculating about how “life” and “nature” could be in the near future is an apposite cross-disciplinary approach to rethink collectively how we want our future to be and what kind of aspirations will be possible or even probable under the auspices of turbo capitalism and mass consumerism.

Our guest lectures are open to all.

Public Lecture
Date and time: Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 1:45–3:15 pm.
Venue: University of Applied Arts Vienna
Oskar Kokoschka Platz 2
1010 Vienna
Lecture Hall 1 (ground floor)