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WHITEFEATHER HUNTER

Mooncalf: ‘Unclean meat’

Published onJun 28, 2022
WHITEFEATHER HUNTER

WhiteFeather Hunter is a multiple award-winning Canadian artist and scholar. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in biological arts at the University of Western Australia, supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, Australian
Government International RTP Scholarship and University of Western Australia International Postgraduate Scholarship. Before commencing her Ph.D., WhiteFeather was a founding member and principal investigator of the Speculative Life BioLab at the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University (Montreal) from 2016 to 2019. WhiteFeather’s biotechnological art practice intersects technofeminism,
witchcraft, micro- and cellular biology with performance, new media and craft. Recent presentations include at Ars Electronica, KIKK Festival, Innovation Centre Iceland, NZ Centre for Human-Animal Studies, University of the Arts Helsinki and in numerous North American cities. Her research in developing human menstrual serum for tissue culture was featured as a Next Great Impossible by Sigma-Millipore/Merck for International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2021.

For Technoetic Arts 18.2-3 , special issue “Taboo–Transgression–Transcendence in Art & Science”, WhiteFeather Hunter wrote Mooncalf: ‘Unclean meat’ (pp. 205-222):

“The calamitous warnings of climate science have been latched onto by a growing roster of biotech start-up companies who propose to invent lab-generated meat alternatives to the ecologically disastrous livestock industry. They use solutionist hype to promote ‘sustainable’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘cruelty-free’, ‘clean meat’. This moralized marketing, however, masks a continued reliance on animal agriculture. The fact remains that mammalian cells and tissues are grown in vitro using foetal calf serum, a bloodderived nutrient. Is it really possible to grow meat without banking on the bodies of nonhuman others? Might there be more tasteful material? In Bioart Kitchen: Art, Feminism and Technoscience, Lindsay Kelley asks, ‘[h] ow do technologies taste?’ This article proposes one answer to her prompt, centred on a technofeminist contextualization of the research-creation project, Mooncalf (2019–present). Mooncalf is a series of wet lab experiments and artistic outputs that showcase the potential viability of human menstrual serum for culturing mammalian tissue. These experiments present a direct provocation that problematizes the cellular agriculture industry as it pertains to the production of ‘clean meat’ and instead works towards a proof-of concept ‘unclean’ meat prototype. Mooncalf is a symbolic precursor or speculative promise meant to facilitate a ‘cultural taste’ for feminist biotechnologies.”

Hunter, WhiteFeather ([2020] 2022), ‘Mooncalf: “Unclean meat”’, Technoetic
Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research, 18:2&3, pp. 205–22, https://doi.
org/10.1386/tear_00039_1


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