Date of Award

August 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Jennifer Johung

Committee Members

Elena Gorfinkel


Bioart, New Museum Theory, Oron Catts, Semi-living, Tissue Culture & Art Project


With the rising visibility of modern innovations in biotechnology that have been defining factors in the turn into the twenty-first century, it is not surprising that artists would engage and critique the implications of these scientific advancements. One artistic partnership working to raise awareness through the critique of biotechnological progressions in their work is the collaboration Tissue Culture & Art Project (TC&A) comprised of artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr. Working to bridge the gap between the fields of arts and sciences, TC&A employ living and growing cells as the foundation for their semi-living sculptures and manipulate and coach the tissues into specific shapes. Through the display of their semi-living sculptures in exhibitions, TC&A present the museum-going public with biotechnological advancements and hopefully instigate conversations about future implications of scientific development. In the contemplation of these works, viewers also consider their living quality and its relationship to their own. In evaluating the building blocks of life and the characteristics that define it, observers begin to form relationships with the objects based on the added value they place on these living beings.

In this thesis, I examine the exhibition of three Tissue Culture & Art Project works, Pig Wings, Tissue Culture & Art(ificial) Wombs, and Victimless Leather, and the ways their living qualities interrupt the museum environment. I explore the required changes to the roles and expectations of the artists, curators, and visitors based on the sculptures’ semi-subjectivity. I argue that the alterations made based on the work’s demands reveal the limits of the new museum theory framework and necessitate a new approach to displaying TC&A’s semi-living works.