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Self-Care by Lyndsey Walsh: Questioning bodily identities associated with disease, gender, and care

Self-Care, by Lyndsey Walsh, is an artistic attempt to reckon with ruptures in identity caused by the rising use of genetic diagnostics in medicine. Using the artist’s own body, Self-Care weaves a narrative about health, gender, and identity that seeks to resist the confines of the medical gaze.


An image of the artist wearing a clear silicone chest binder that has pockets of pink fluid set inside the bottom of it. The artist is also wearing clear vinyl gloves and a pair of peachy beige briefs. The artist is holding a syringe filled with cell culture nutrient media and is injecting the pouches of the chest binder with it as part of a cancer cell feeding ritual. In front of the artist is a white table with a glass biohazardous waste container, a set of syringes, and a falcon tube filled with ethanol. The room that the artist is in has white walls and is lit with late afternoon sunlight casting a shadow of a window pane against it.
Self-Care by Lyndsey Walsh, photo credit: Asya Kaplan

The work features a specially designed chest binder housing living breast cancer cells, which allows the artist to take on the caring responsibilities of their cancer before it emerges in their body. Through this device, the artist explores caring systems and reclaims the potential violence done onto the breasts as liberation through non-binary gender expression.


An image of a photograph print hanging on a white wall. In the print, the artist is standing in front of a black background and is using a syringe to inject a pink liquid nutrient media into tubing that connects to the specialized pockets where the cells are contained. To the left of the print is a white pipe that is running up the side of the wall in a vertical position.
Self-Care Photo Series photographed by Pavlina Belokreniskaya in m/other becomings at SOLU Space/Bioart Society in Helsinki, FI, photo credit: Genietta Varsi

Self-Care confronts the inheritance of bodily trauma and the impact of the medical gaze and medical surveillance on the so-called “female body”. Embedded in personal narrative and bodily exploration, the work seeks to question bodily identities associated with disease, gender, and care. Self-Care sets out to queer these notions by rearticulating bodily relationships and the horrors associated with bodily potentials in the face of genetic-based disease diagnostics and familial histories of cancer.


An image of a black monitor displaying the artist film “Mammography- Mommagraphy Techniques”. Scene depicted shows two hands manipulating an older adult woman’s breast onto a metal plate to be imaged with an older mammography machine. The scene is in a blue color scheme and there is text at the bottom, as part of closed captioning, stating “and as much as I’d want to stay healthy”. The monitor is set against a white wall.
"Mammography (Mommagraphy) Techniques" in m/other becomings at SOLU Space/Bioart Society in Helsinki, FI, photo credit: Genietta Varsi

The work is accompanied by media about the wearable device, and two videos, one that explores the artists’ relationship with their mother and inherited genetic mutations in the context of the US healthcare system and an interview with Finnish genetic health expert Kristiina Aittomäki.


A photograph of a black tablet connected to a pair of blackheadphones with a silver rectangle on the earcup featuring the logo of Sennheiser. The tablet and earphones are sitting on a white shelf and against a white wall. The tablet is displaying a scene of an interview done by the artist with Dr. Kristiina Aittomäki. The artist and Aittomäki can be seen in parallel windows in the scene.
Interview with Finnish genetic health expert Kristiina Aittomäki in m/other becomings at SOLU Space/Bioart Society in Helsinki, FI, photo credit: Genietta Varsi

Self-Care is based on the research project titled “Prophylaxis” done during Art.ITMO.Residency at the Art & Science Centre at ITMO University in 2021.


Self-Care has been commissioned by the Bioart Society for m/other becomings and was part of the m/other becomings exhibition in May of 2022 in Helsinki, FI. m/other becomings is a collaboration between Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology (DK), The Association for Arts and Mental Health (DK), Kultivator (SE), Art Lab Gnesta (SE), and Bioart Society (FI).


Three photo printed images of the artist (Lyndsey Walsh) wearing a silicone binder containing specially designed pockets that can hold living breast cancer cells. From left to right: In one photo (left), the artist is seen standing in front of a white background and in another photo (middle), the artist is standing in front of a black background and is using a syringe to inject a pink liquid nutrient media into tubing that connects to the specialized pockets where the cells are contained, and in the last photo (right), there is a close up image of the artist wearing the binder from a front-facing perspective and the artist is standing against a black background. All of the images are mounted on a white wall that has white pipes running around the images.
Self-Care Photo Series photographed by Pavlina Belokreniskaya in m/other becomings at SOLU Space/Bioart Society in Helsinki, FI, photo credit: Genietta Varsi

PHOTO DOCUMENTATION BY: Milla Millasnoore, Asya Kaplan, and Genietta Varsi. PHOTOGRAPHY OF SELF-CARE BY: Pavlina Belokrenitskaya


 

About Lyndsey Walsh


Lyndsey Walsh is an American artist, designer, writer, and researcher based in Berlin, DE. Lyndsey has a Bachelor’s in Individualized Studies from New York University and a Master’s in Biological Arts with Distinction from SymbioticA Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts at the University of Western Australia. Lyndsey is enthralled by the creatures emerging from the spaces in between and crossing over the imaginary, the becoming, and reality. Their work explores the instability surrounding the cultural and social aspects of disease, identity, the body, death, human and non-human relationships, and speculative narratives on the future. They are also ½ of the feral and queer artistic collaboration called Crawlers along with Jess Cockerill and ½ of the creative music and arts collective I’m Daddy along with Bailey Keogh. Currently, Lyndsey is a visiting scholar and researcher with the Department of Experimental Biophysics at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin in collaboration with the UniSysCat Cluster of Excellence, and they guest lecture at various institutions and universities around the world.


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