Unhallowed Arts

Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay? 

-Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 1818

October 2018 Perth, Western Australia


Quite Frankly: It's a Monster Conference
University Club of Western Australia
17-19 October 2018Quite Frankly


$485 FULL




2018 marks 200 years since the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. Shelley’s “Creature” is usually conceived as a human creation, the stitched-together, tragic victim of scientific and technological experimentation. We rupture these stitches, revealing that the Creature is more than the sum of its parts. SymbioticA and Somatechnics join forces to present Quite Frankly: It’s a Monster Conference.

We invite you to explore the dynamic ecosystems evolving within and from the gaps between the Creature’s fragments. Life has become a raw material for re-assembling organisms, tools and consumer products. We are firmly entrenched in a “[bio]informatics of efficiency,” where both biology and technology are subjected to control, optimisation, computation and surveillance at ever decreasing and increasing scales. In light of current ecological and bio-political devastation, we induce extinction. Keep calm and contaminate. There is hope, there is resistance; the Creature offers the potential to escape control and fight back.

Quite Frankly invites explorations that (re)form kinships and provide niches of refuge and asylum for explorations at the limits of precarity. We encourage liberations of Frankenstein’s Creature from its anthropocentric singularity to an intra-active entanglement; from the living-dead to the compost-able. We revel in re-craftings of biotechnical industrialisations and commodifications and managerial aesthetics. As Karen Barad reminds us, “the political potential does not stop with regeneration, for there are other wild dimensions within and without that rage with possibilities.” Join us to unpick the Creature’s stitches and liberate its companion species.

Keynote speakers:

• Karen Barad Ph.D., Theoretical Particle Physics, SUNY Stony Brook

Karen Barad is Professor of Feminist Studies, Philosophy, and History of Consciousness at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Barad's Ph.D. is in theoretical particle physics and quantum field theory. Barad held a tenured appointment in a physics department before moving into more interdisciplinary spaces. Barad is the author of Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Duke University Press, 2007) and numerous articles in the fields of physics, philosophy, science studies, poststructuralist theory, and feminist theory. Barad's research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Hughes Foundation, the Irvine Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Barad is the Co-Director of the Science & Justice Graduate Training Program at UCSC. Barad received an honorary doctorate from Gothenburg University in 2016, and is on the faculty of the European Graduate School.
See also:  and

• Ambelin Kwaymullina

Ambelin Kwaymullina is an Aboriginal law academic, illustrator and speculative fiction writer. Her dystopian Young Adult series, The Tribe, is a work of Indigenous Futurisms, a form of storytelling whereby Indigenous creators use the speculative fiction genre to challenge colonialism and imagine Indigenous futures. Ambelin’s academic and creative work is grounded in her standpoint as a Palyku woman, and as such, she understands reality to be holistic, non-linear and animate in nature. Ambelin works across the academic, business and literary sectors to explore the means by which non-Indigenous peoples can ethically engage with Indigenous peoples so as to create the as-yet unrealised possibility of a just future.

• Fiona Wood

Winthrop Professor Fiona Wood is a Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon specialising in the field of burn care, trauma and scar reconstruction. Wood is the Director of the WA Burns Service of Western Australia and a Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Princess Margaret Hospital and Fiona Stanley Hospital. Her research through the Burn Injury Research Unit UWA and the Fiona Wood Foundation is focused on scarless healing. In bringing basic science to the bedside the aim is to build a unique capacity to facilitate direct research collaborations between researchers and practitioners across basic science, population health, clinical care and clinical outcomes. Fiona Wood has also been involved in a number of education and disaster response programmes associated with her interest in burns and has presented and published a variety of papers over the years. Fiona and Marie Stoner, co-founders of Clinical Cell Culture,  now Avitamedical, won the 2005 Clunies Ross Award for their contributions to Medical Science in Australia. Wood received the honour of being named Australian of the Year in 2005.

• Kira O’Reilly

Kira O’Reilly is an artist currently based in Helsinki where she leads a pilot masters programme in in Ecology and Contemporary Performance at the Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki. Her practice, both willfully interdisciplinary and entirely undisciplined, stems from a visual art background; it employs performance, drawing, makings, biotechnical practices and writing with which to consider speculative reconfigurations around The Body. But she is no longer sure if she even does that anymore. She writes, teaches, mentors and collaborates with humans of various kinds, technologies and non-humans of numerous divergences including mosses, spiders, the sun, pigs, cell cultures, horses, micro-organisms, bicycles, rivers, landscapes, tundras, rocks, trees, shoes, food, books, air, lichen, green glitter, moon and ravens.

Since graduating from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff in 1998 her work has been exhibited widely throughout the UK, Europe, Australia, China and Mexico. She has presented at conferences and symposia on both live art and science, art and technology interfaces. She has been a visiting lecturer in the UK, Australia and U.S.A in visual art, drama and dance. A forthcoming monograph on her practice, Kira O’Reilly: Untitled Bodies will be published winter 2017 in the Intellect Live Series by Live Art Development Agency and Intellect Books. 

19 Oct – 23 December 2018
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts

Hyperprometheus takes specific meanings derived from Frankenstein and presents them within the realm of emerging and historical artistic disciplines. Considering specific meanings of the novel within the 21st century context, Hyperprometheus combines these with Timothy Morton's notion of Hyperobjects. The selected artworks are drawn from experimental, contemporary and biological arts and tackle ideas of life and death, the creation and assemblage of life, the reanimation of the non-living, future life, synthetic biology, the technological non-human and the responsibility of creators.

This exhibition focuses on the intersection of the living and the non-living, artifice and nature, reproductive and biomedical technologies and other scientific and technological practices of our age. Mary Shelley ‘looked to the creative aspects of Prometheus’ persona to ask important questions about the limits of the artistic and scientific imagination' and in Hyperprometheus we consider such limits within the context of the new millennium. Curated by Eugenio Viola, Laetitia Wilson and Oron Catts.

Film FestivalThe Chaos of Creation and the Matters of Life
20 October
State Library of Western Australia
Film program curated by Jack Sargeant

Frankenstein in cinema has often be linked to the gothic. To a world characterised by the remote foreign castle occupied by the mad scientist and his deranged assistant, the macabre stitching together of corpses to create a man, and the scientific quest for life! Frankenstein, sometimes a shorthand for the monstrous creation rather than the scientist, often exists in a supernatural world alongside the vampire and werewolf (most recently in the television series Penny Dreadful). But conceptually Frankenstein exists as a colloquial shorthand for an unsettling engagement with science and scientific experimentation. This trio of films offers multiple ways into Frankenstein and the ideas introduced within Mary Wollstonecraft’s book.

5:00pm Jack Sargeant intro to program
5:10pm Upstream Color 96 min
6:45pm Q+A, panel chat
7:10pm Gothic 87min [35mm print]
8:40pm Q+A panel chat
9:10pm Curse of Frankenstein 83 min [35mm print]

About the curator:
Jack Sargeant PhD is the author of numerous books on cinema and underground culture, including Flesh & Excess: On Underground Film (Amok Books) and Against Control (Eight Millimetre). He is the Program Director for Revelation and an independent curator of film and art.

Upstream Color
Shane Carruth
USA, 2013
Rated M
On the surface Shane Carruth’s experimental science fiction film has no clear links to Mary Wollstonecraft’s novel. But the narrative and mis-en-scene in Upstream Color are embedded within questions about the nature of experience, what it means to be human, the nature of identity, the nature of solitude and of unity, the limitless possibilities for biological life, and the relationships between humans, science, and nature. There are moments of quasi-body-horror set against the disconnected existence of the contemporary slipstream world, all wrapped in a surrealist, quasi-Lynchean mystery. If Frankenstein reflected the concerns of its era, then Upstream Color engages with contemporary anxieties; fears of biological infestation, economic disaster, and ever present threats to our autonomous self-identity.

Gothic [35mm print]
Dir: Ken Russell
UK, 1986
Rated M
Gothic is set on the fateful May night in Switzerland when Mary Wollstonecraft (Natasha Richardson), Percy Shelly (Julian Sands), Lord Byron (Gabriel Byrne), Claire Clairmont (Myriam Cyr), and John Polidori (Timothy Spall) came together in a villa on the shore of Lake Geneva. The night would result in the writing of John Polidori’s novel The Vampyre and of Mary Wollstonecraft’s classic Frankenstein. In Gothic the events are characterized by a combination of decadence, extravagance, eroticism, and mysticism, a night of seances, visions, and nightmares. Lurid, camp, expressionistic, and excessive, Gothic is classic Ken Russell, combining vivid psychedelic colours, flashes of gore, and dream realities, and the cast turn in some great performances (Cyr’s Clairmont and Spall’s Polidori are both wonderfully delivered). A joyous celebration of decadence, the visionary nature of writing, and the genesis of Wollstonecraft’s Frankenstein.

The Curse of Frankenstein [35mm print]
Terence Fisher
UK, 1957
Rated M
The first colour horror film from Hammer, The Curse of Frankenstein stars the studio’s legends Peter Cushing (as Baron Victor Frankenstein) and Christopher Lee (as the Monster). The blood and gore gothic aesthetic that became Hammer’s signature is perfectly realised in the film and Christopher Lee’s performance as the Monster is genuinely unsettling. The film launched Hammer’s reputation for a unique manifestation of gothic horror, and alongside the studio’s subsequent movies - Dracula, 1958, and The Mummy, 1959, both directed by Fisher and starring Cushing and Lee - firmly established the style of the classic Hammer movies.

Kira O'ReillyWhat if This Was the Only World She Knew?
Kira O'Reilly

Date: Sunday 21 October 2018
Opening time: 17.00 – 20.00 (3 Hours)
Location: Old Girls' School, East Perth

The auditorium is a bare space, too big, too huge. It is an invisible forest.
She is the only person who is allowed to walk on the forest floor.
Everything exists more on the level of incipience, inchoate dreams and pre-articulate sensations.
But some huge currents are moving - too deep to put into words - or thoughts even.’
The materials try to speak themselves, eggs, earth, glitter, wind, breath, carpet, flesh.
Everything is exactly what it is.
Everything is exactly something else.
It is an entire world. A prefixal world.

Over three hours, as day moves to dusk and night falls, a series of material embodiments and immaterial disembodiments will be performed in the large auditorium, it’s stage and a small room to the side of the stage.

Viewers are welcome to enter this other world, to remain for as long or as short a time as they wish, or to come and go.

Kira O'Reilly is a performance artist based in Helsinki, Finland. Kira O'Reilly: Untitled (Bodies), edited by Harriet Curtis & Martin Hargreaves, was published by Live Art Development Agency (LADA) and Intellect Books in 2017. 


The Tissue Culture and Art Project
8 Sept - 3 December
Art Gallery of Western Australia

The Tissue Culture and Art Project present Biomess: A collaboration with the WA Museum and The Art Gallery of WA that will probe the strangest of living systems, both unintentional (“natural”) and constructed (“designed”). As life becomes a raw material for human desires, constructed life escapes science labs to become a medium for artistic and consumer products.

New life forms that defy classification appears while we still do not understand many existing lifeforms, which question our traditional notions of identity, self and bodies. Biomess will celebrate and challenge the strangeness of life by using luxury retail aesthetics to make non-charismatic life forms into objects of desire. We will combine living organisms, natural history specimens and lab-grown life, arranged in a “bio-Gucci” style.

The Tissue Culture & Art Project (initiated in 1996 by Ionat Zurr and Oron Catts), is an on-going research and development project into the use of tissue technologies as a medium for artistic expression.

It is a long time since this moment
13th October – 2nd November 2018
Old Customs House, Fremantle
Curated by MOANA

It is a long time since this moment is a speculative imagining of future uses of the human body in a world where rapidly changing networks of ecosystems, capital and labour are hostile. These rapid shifts can no longer necessarily be called ‘progress’. As our environment deteriorates, so too do humanity’s constructed notions of the body and the self as something fundamentally distinct from our ecosystems, technologies, and other forms of life. The artists featured examine how our interrelated systems of bodies, human and nonhuman, might interact with and inform one another. It is a long time since this moment explores our anxieties around the survival of life on earth to reimagine our relationship to the future.

Confirmed artists: Marisa Georgiou (QLD) Hannah Hallam-Eames & Sam Jackson (NZ/VIC) 

Cullity Gallery, UWA School of Design
Curated by Sarah Douglas and Elizabeth Pedler

Opening Event: Wednesday October 17 at 6.30pm
Exhibition runs: Oct 18-October 30, 2018
Gallery Open : 9am-5pm Monday-Friday

The desire to take into account our human creations and consumptive legacies have delivered a flood of post human concerns and anxieties toward uncertain futures.

Staring down the past two centuries since the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, the exhibition, unfettered, takes measure of our contemporary condition. Shelley’s narrative resounds with compelling questions of ambition and responsibility. Unfettered considers the hubris of progress, the human and the constructed body, the impact of techno data on subjectivity, and the disruptive structures of power.
Bringing together both established and emerging artists from across Australia, unfettered engages in artistic contributions to a global discourse surrounding contemporary approaches to technology and the situated body. Sited within the Cullity Gallery at the University of Western Australia, the exhibition highlights experimental and research-driven practices that are object, performative or technologically mediated to traverses the tensions between alienation from, or compulsion toward, our techno-scientific worlds.

Confirmed Artists:

Paul Boyé (WA) Dale Buckley (WA) Boni Caincross (NSW) Janet Carter (WA) Benjamin Forster (NSW) Reegan Jackson (WA) Graham Mathwin (WA) Mike Makossa  (WA) Marnie Orr  (WA) Perdita Philips (WA) Kynan Tan (NSW/WA)

Paper MountainDark Skies Ahead
Opening Oct 20
Paper Mountain
Curated By Jenn Garland

Written in the ‘year without a summer’ of 1816, Frankenstein was a product of extreme weather across the globe due to volcanic winter following the Mount Tambora eruption. This brief period of climate change triggered devastating worldwide harvest failures and provided fertile ground for speculative and gothic fiction.

Two hundred years later, as dark clouds gather on the horizon, what can we draw from Mary Shelley’s cautionary tale of unnatural life born of human hubris and unrestricted techno-science? Dark Skies Ahead, explores science as a contestable power field which offers shelter from the forecasted storm while hastening its arrival and fuelling its intensity. Local and international artists present works which consider ecological futures, spatial and atmospheric perceptions and the dual potential of science.

Artists: Amy Perejuan-Capone, Devon Ward, Nathan Thompson, Angela Garrick, Yanai Toister, Kira O'Reilly + Jennifer Willett

This Mess We're InThis Mess We’re In
13 October–2 November 2018
Old Customs House
Curated by Tarsh Bates

/This Mess We’re In/ entangles queer feminist ecologies with /Frankenstein/, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s seminal exploration of life creation and re-formation. The artworks pick at the stitches of life and technology, emerging, resist, reform and respond to the biotechnologisation of life. They reveal the messiness of life and technology, our mess-mates and the messes we are in because of our manipulations. They also explore the political, ethical and material affordances of this mess for re-configuring, trans-animating, per-forming and de-colonising. The exhibition forms a unique ecology of queer feminist perspectives on Shelley’s legacy.

Confirmed artists: Abhishek Hazra, Ai Hasegawa, Alicia King, Alize Zorlutuna, Cat Jones, Helah Milroy, Helen Pynor, JJ Hastings, Karen Casey, Kathy High, Kirsten Hudson, Lindsay Kelley, Mary Maggic, Mike Bianco, Pony Express, Rachel Mayeri, Sarah Hermanutz, Shelley Jackson, Špela Petrič, Svenja Kratz, Sue Hauri-Downing, Tarsh Bates and WhiteFeather Hunter.


+ more to be announced...