The Wasted Debates
Public Debate 02/12
Should people be allowed to donate parts of their body to an artist?
Is it right for galleries to exhibit artwork made of real human bones, teeth or fat? Who owns our body parts when they are removed from us?
Does the use of human tissue in art serve any purpose, or is this just sensationalism? Should this type of art require formal approval?
In February 2012, we invited people to discuss these fascinating questions at a ‘Question Time’ style event with a panel including:
• Dominic Hughes, BBC Health Correspondent
• Canon Jules Gomes, Artistic Director of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral
• Andy Miah, academic and specialist in cultural ethics, and
• Rt Hon Jane Kennedy, former MP for Liverpool Wavertree and Minister of State for Health.
This event was chaired by Roger phillips of BBC Radio Merseyside.
At present, there are strict ethical rules relating to the use of human tissue from living people. Doctors and medical researchers must follow codes of conduct and get ethics approval (from the Human Tissue Authority) and consent from individuals to obtain tissue from living donors, for example to use tumour biopsy samples for scientific research. However, there is no ethical committee that has the authority to decide whether anyone else, an artist or museum curator for example, can obtain tissue from living consenting donors, for the purpose of making art and displaying it.
The Wasted public debate sought to open up a discussion about the ethics of ‘bio-art’ with a wider audience.
Anyone can join in the debate by visiting www.wasteddebates.info or tweet us @wasteddebates.
The Wasted Debates
Roundtable event 02/12
Attending Nicola Triscott, Anna Dumitriu
Kathy High, Simon Poulter, Rod Dillon,
Murray Anderson-Wallace, Bronac Ferran
Margaret Clegg, Sian Aggett
Charlotte Jarvis , Sara Rankin
Maurice Davies, Andy Miah
Heath Bunting, Gina Czarnecki
Carol Christopherson,Polly Moseley
Kate Rodenhurst, Emma Loban
Sara Jane Parsons
It may be naive to think that we can establish an ethics advisory group for art working with biomedicine and medical research that becomes a qualified resource for science as well as for art. But with biotechnology and medicine being an increasingly powerful economic force, shouldnʼt there be a public, cultural debate?
This round table is a meeting of experts to discuss how to move forward to assist artists to create and exhibit future works that use human tissue. This is the first step and I hope that we can use this as a starting point in the creation of a platform for debate and reflection.
How can we have an ethics advisory panel that does not censor art, that does not dictate ethical principles nor advocate the development of specific approaches but offers suggestions? Who should be involved?
How would a bioethics committee for art work in practice?
Surely there must be need for the live platform which contemporary art can offer, to explore the cultural and moral dimensions of advances in science and technology as they evolve.
These debates were streamed and you can see these here: