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Artists' Talk: "Doing Science in a Gendered World"

Event date: 
Monday, 23 July, 2018 - 12:30 to 13:30
Event location: 
Murray Seminar Room, School of Life Sciences
Event speaker: 
Kira O'Reilly, Clara Usitti, Ker Wallwork

A sharing of practice by artists Kira O’Reilly, Clara Ursitti and Ker Wallwork followed by an open discussion.

This event is part of the project "Doing Science in a Gendered World"; an event, workshop and exhibition (Feb-April 2019) organised by LifeSpace and School of Life Sciences Athena SWAN.

How might we trouble the ways we are accustomed to ‘see’ or ‘position’ gender in bodies? When might the infrastructure of an organisation create a gendered experience? Where can we find the ‘in between’ spaces that create more complex and truer understandings of gender and how people experience it differently? Does our behaviour assume something of another person because of their gender? When do we perform so-called masculinity or femininity in order to move forward in a situation.

The title "doing science in a gendered world" is a quote by mathematical biologist and feminist historian of science Evelyn Fox Keller from the 1980s. She was making a case for the importance of who was identifying areas of scientific research, the gendering of language in scientific processes and the infrastructures that had meant that historically, science was typically a field where men worked. The intention of the quote is to highlight that the discussion isn’t simply about ‘women in science’ but recognising that behaviours and organisational systems can influence who does, or continues to do, science.

’Doing science’ here refers to the collaborative work that is carried out by teams including scientists, technicians, building managers, public engagement officers and administrators. The artists involved in this discussion have all entered into scientific organisations as part of the process of making their artistic work.

Image courtesy of Clara Ursitti.


Information about the artists: 

Kira O’Reilly is an artist based in Helsinki in Finland where she leads the MA in Ecology and Contemporary Performance (MEACP) at Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts in Helsinki. She works mostly in performance, sometimes biotechnical practices and writing with which to consider speculative reconfigurations around The Body, bodies and what that might mean in our contemporary times. Her art work is presented in visual arts, dance, performance art, live art and science, art and technology contexts. The publication Kira O'Reilly: Untitled (Bodies), edited by Harriet Curtis & Martin Hargreaves was published this year by Live Art Development Agency and Intellect Books.

Clara Ursitti is an artist based in Glasgow, Scotland. Clara often works with scent and social space, creating ephemeral installations and interventions. She has a long-standing commitment to navigating the space between the visible object and what we cannot see, but can feel and exerts an influence on us. Underlying her practice is an obsession with what is invisible, either literally (through the non–visual senses), or metaphorically (through dominant social relations or attitudes).
Clara has exhibited widely and was commissioned by The Collective Gallery, Edinburgh to present a major new work as part of the Edinburgh Festival of Art, 2017.   Recent exhibitions include Hole in the Sky, The Modern Institute, Airds Lane, Glasgow, 2018; What’s Love Got to Do With It? Art-Cade Gallery, Marseille, France as part of Printemps Art Contemporain  Festival 2018 and Sex Smells at the Kunstverein, Wolfsburg, Germany, 2016.  Her work was recently included in the survey exhibitions: Belle Haleine, Museum Tinguely, Basel, 2015 and Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland 2014. She was a recipient of the IASPIS (International Artists Studio Programme in Sweden) award in 2004 and in 2006 she was the Arts Council of England Helen Chadwick Fellow (British School at Rome and University of Oxford).  In 2012-14 a Canada Council Long Term Artist Grant.  She lectures in the Sculpture and Environmental Art Department at Glasgow School of Art.  More information:

Ker Wallwork is an artist based in London working in sculpture, drawing, film and video. Their work is concerned with failures in communication. Playing with symbolism, they combine elements from scientific research and imaging, historical art and architecture, and contemporary media to suggest alternative and disordered narratives.
They graduated from the Glasgow School of Art’s Sculpture and Environmental Art department in 2011 and have since shown work across the UK and internationally. Recent exhibitions and screenings include Transitional States (Lincoln, London and travelling to Barcelona and Bologna in Autumn 2018), XPOSED International Film Festival, Berlin, 2018, and Queering Love, Queering Hormones at BFI Flare Festival, London 2017.