Glass container, formalin, fabric
Post-Birth is a performance art piece that utilizes multimedia installations and a narrative structure to explore the concept of non-human organisms being considered an extension of human life. As the creator and subject of the piece, I assume the role of the "mother" alongside the bacteria from my body's surface, in an ongoing body experiment that simulates the relationship between mother and child.
To achieve this, I cultivate the bacteria on my hair, nails, and skin, using an external uterus suspended on my abdomen. Throughout the performance, I engage in daily activities that imitate the physical process of pregnancy, including prenatal yoga, education, and daily care. The interactions are recorded. The piece culminates at the moment of birth, where the bacteria are removed from the external uterus and placed in an infant incubator. The external uterus becomes a specimen and is soaked in formalin. These artificially created uteri become an extension of my body, embodied as part of me. When they were developing inside me, when they were born, and when they were placed in incubators, the power dynamic between them and my body kept changing. I wondered if they were parasites or if I was just a part of laboratory material.
In this piece, I want to discuss the concept of post-humanity beyond the popular idea of fusing man and machine or bionics, which is often depicted in science fiction. Instead, I want to explore how our understanding of embodiment can extend to all organisms, including non-human ones. This raises the question: can we grant the right to embodiment to all "bodies," such as bionic humans, computers, stones, animals, or even bacteria?
Post-human ethics is concerned with how we treat all beings, including non-human and extraterrestrial ones. It emphasizes the extension of human rights to all species, virtual entities, and even honeycomb-like stem cells. Post-humanism seeks to reconstruct the notion of "human nature" that defines what it means to be human and challenges the rigid binary oppositions between humans and non-humans, nature and culture. By doing so, it questions the special status of humans as the "primate of all things" and instead repositions humans as one of the many things in the world. The core intention of post-humanism is the "decentering of humanity." Through my imitation of pregnancy and care for the bacteria, I ask whether non-human organisms can also have the right of embodiment and whether we have broken the boundary between human and non-human organisms.
In conclusion, as the artist behind "Post-birth," I present a piece that raises fundamental questions about embodiment and its extension beyond the human body. Through my exploration of the relationship between human and non-human organisms, I seek to challenge our understanding of embodiment and prompt critical inquiry into the concept.
Yidi Wang resides in Chicago, IL.