Tarsh Bates (Symbiotica, University of Western Australia): The Unsettling Eros of Contact Zones: Queering evolution in the /CandidaHomo/ ecology.
15 January, 15:30-17:00 -- Old Surgeon's Hall Rm 1.06
Human bodies are a mammal/fungi/bacteria/insect/viral ecology which we rarely acknowledge: a normal human body is said to be composed of over 1 trillion cells, of which only about 10% are animal. Recognising our bodies as multispecies ecologies, I focus on the intimate and fraught contact zones of biology, aesthetics, culture and care between Homo sapiens and Candida albicans, the single celled opportunistic fungal pathogen commonly known as thrush. Most reflections on Candida are scientific and from the human perspective: the effects on a human body and emotions during an infection. Through my artistic research, I activate a more-than-human fleshiness through considerations of the aesthetic experiences of Candida during its encounters with the human body. These creative interventions combine scientific, contemporary art and cultural theory methodologies to explore Candida/Homo entanglements. I draw on microbiology, performance, new media, aesthetics and cultural studies, positioning humans and Candida as co-evolved companion species involved in a biopolitical entanglement that is gendered, sexual and often ruthless. One result is a conversation between scientific and artistic onto-epistemologies and posthuman phenomenology, focusing on the entangled bodies of humans and Candida.