Tarsh Bates

Tarsh Bates

MSc (Biological Art) 2012

Bachelor of Science (Hons), Murdoch University (2000)

Bachelor of Arts (Visual Art), ECU (incomplete)

Tarsh Bates has a background in biotechnology and environmental science, graduating with honours in 2000. She has also conducted studies in contemporary art, majoring in sculpture and performance, exhibiting both locally and internationally.

She has worked variously as a pizza delivery driver, a fruit and vegetable stacker, a toilet paper packer, a researcher in compost science and waste management and in honeybee reproduction, an art gallery invigilator, a bookkeeper, a car detailer, and a life drawing model.

Tarsh completed SymbioticA’s Master of Science (Biological Arts) in 2012. She is interested in embodiment, autobiography, and the body as material and as a site of intervention, exploring issues of gender and sexuality in relation to corporeality. Her artistic research is concerned with the reproductive Cyborg: the aestheticisation of the reproductive body, our capacity for alternative possibilities for creation and reproduction, an interspecies aesthetics of care, and the ambiguities of reproductivity in a biotechnological era. She has previously explored these concepts through textiles, sculpture, performance and glasswork. She is particularly interested in modes of communication from the nexus of art and biology. Her practice is influenced by artists Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois and Janine Antoni and by cultural theorists Donna Haraway, Elizabeth Grosz and Luce Irigaray.

Electives taken

  • The Body in Art
  • Spaces of Resistance: Subversive Theatre
  • Art and Contemporary Aesthetic Theory
  • Art and New Media
  • Sex, Science and the Body (Monash University)
  • Gender and Sexuality in History

Conference papers


  • T Bates and M Schlipalius (2013) “Necessary expendability: an exploration of nonhuman death in public,” Animal Death, Jay Johnston and Fiona Probyn-Rapsey (eds), Sydney: Sydney University Press, 43-66
  • T Bates (2010) “InterUterine: Exploring the reprotech body through an interspecies aesthetic of care,” Hecate, 36(1&2): 92-100




July 2013 Intra-action: Multispecies becomings in the Anthropocene, MOP Projects, Sydney
June 2012 Creatures of the Future Garden, Spectrum Project Space, Perth
January 2012 The Conservatorium, Paper Mountain, Perth (
January 2012 Sentience: hidden lives, Kurb, Perth (
October 2011 Embodied Knowledges, spECtrUm Project Space, Perth

August-October 2011 in vitero installation/performance, PICA, Perth

Research Project

in vitero is an artistic research project contributing to tarsh’s Master of Science (Biological Art) at SymbioticA, which examines the evolution of ‘somatic semantics’ or ways of understanding through bodies. The project is an experiment in the aesthetics of care, which investigates the potential that sustained proximity and care can offer in exploring the relationship between the carer and cared-for. Aesthetic experiences of care are explored through prolonged engagement with eight other species of living organisms housed in customised glass vessels. The organisms, commonly used in reproductive biology, include fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), thrush (Candida albicans), thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), red bread mold (Neurospora crassa), soil nematodes (Caenorhabditis elegans), water fleas (Daphnia pulex), slime mold (Physarum polycephalum), hydra (Hydra vulgaris) and tarsh, (Homo sapien sapiens).
in vitero is a durational performance occuring in two locations: a scientific laboratory at UWA and a public studio at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. After two and a half months in the laboratory, the project moves into Studio Two at PICA and is open to the public. The organisms are installed in the gallery in their customised vessels and I live in the gallery with them.  During this time at PICA I engage in necessary and often mundane activities required for the care of the organisms and myself. Audience members are invited to participate, to spend time with and care for the organisms.
I am interested in the potential that sustained proximity and care can offer in creating intimacy between the carer and cared-for. How do our behaviours change when we care for other bodies? What does it mean to care for fruit flies, slime mould, daphnia, hydra, or soil nematodes in a gallery? Is it possible to develop a different relationship between Candida albicans (commonly known as thrush) and humans by caring for it? How do we care for creatures that are not cute, furry or even visible? Is it appropriate – or ethical – to contain organisms in glass terrariums and keep them for our own purposes, aesthetic, cultural, educational or scientific?

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in vitero is an ArtScience research project enabled by SymbioticA, the Centre of Excellence in Biological Art, UWA. It has received generous support from the Tea Tree Oil Research Group; Microbiology & Immunology, UWA; the School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University; the Aquatic Ecology & Ecosystem Studies, SESE, UWA; Plant Energy Biology, UWA; & the SABC, Murdoch University.