Symposium & ethics panel performance with Maja Smrekar

Can the arts play a role in understanding the ethical issues arrising from new (bio)technologies? Can ethics be an artform or should art making require ethical approval? “Trust me, I’m an Artist” investigates the new ethical issues arising from art and science collaboration and considers the roles and responsibilities of the artists, scientists and institutions involved.

The final symposium of the Trust me, I’m an artist project will take place in Amterdam on 17th November 2017, building on previous events in Amsterdam, Brighton, Copenhagen, London, Berlin, Dublin, Ljubljana, Paris, Prague and Riga. Artworks that explored issues such as gene editing and antibiotic resistance, humanity’s radioactive heritage, self-experimentation, human tissue culture and sculpture, interspecies communication, biocontainment and responsibility, the microbiome, and synthetic biology were presented and debated in public ethics panels in a series of performative events (before a live audience). Specially selected artists proposed ethically complex artworks to a specially formed ethics committee (following the rules and procedures typical for the host country), the ethics committee then debated the proposals and came to a decision, the artist was then informed of the ethics committee’s decision and, alongside the audience, they entered into a discussion about the result.

This final symposium will address key questions arising from the project such as: “What can science and ethics learn from the Trust me, I’m an artist project?” “Can ethics become an artistic practice?” Can Trust me, I’m an artist lead to the reframing of research questions?” Should art and culture organisations require ethical approval; do we need ethical institutions?”

Artists, ethicists, scientists and representatives of the institutions involved in the “Trust Me, I’m an Artist” series will present their reflections and visions.

To prepare us for the final symposium, on the evening of 16th November we will host a new”Trust me, I’m an artist” ethics panel event reflecting on the art work K9 Topology of the award winning Slovenian artist Maja Smrekar. Smrekar researched the co-evolution of humans and dogs, taking the measure to place their cell materials in an equal cohabitating relationship.

Trust me, I’m an artist is a project supported by the Creative Europe programme of the Europen Commission coordinated by Waag Society with partners Art Catalyst, Kapelica Gallery, Medical Museion and communication partner Leonardo-Olats. Lead artist is Anna Dumitriu and lead ethicist is Prof. Bobbie Farsides.


Ethics Panel Perfromance TMIAAA, 16 November 19.30 – 22.00

Maja Smrekar – Ecce Canis – K9 Topology

Ethics panel:

  • Prof. Dr. Bobbie Farsides, Brighton Sussex Medical School – chair
  • Dr. Ellen ter Gast, philosopher, integrative thinker
  • Arjen Mulder, writer, biologist
  • Assistant Professor Dr. Nora S. Vaage, Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and social Sciences, Maastricht University
  • Professor Dr. Ing. Robert Zwijnenberg, Art and Science Interactions, Leiden University

Symposium TMIAAA, 17 November 10.00 – 17.30

Welcome & Introduction 10.30 – 11.00
– Marleen Stikker, director Waag Society
– Anna Dumitriu, lead artist Trust me, I’m an artist, presentation of the background of Trust me, I’m an artist
– Prof. Dr. Bobbie Farsides, Brighton Sussex Medical School, Lead Ethicist “Trust me, i’m an artist”
– Lucas Evers – Explanation format of the symposium: Provocations, panels and participatory negocitation session.

Ethics – Can ethics learn from the arts? 11.00 – 11.45
– 10 minute reflection by Dr. Wieke Betten, Free University, Amsterdam
Jurij Krpan, what did ethics learn from arts in the TMIAAA edition in Ljubljana?
– Ass. Prof. Nora Vaage, Maastricht University
– Dr. Ellen ter Gast
– Dr. Wieke Betten
Moderation Prof. Dr. Bobbie Farsides

Arts – Can ethics be an arts practice? 11.45 – 12.30
– 10 minute reflection by Spela Petric
Jareh Das: Were ethics an arts practice in the London editions of TMIAAA (Neil White and Martin O’Brien)
– Spela Petric
– Jareh Das, curator Arts Catalyst, London (tbc)
– Anna Dumitriu
Moderation Annick Bureaud

Ethical institutions or institutionalised ethics? 13.30 – 14.15
– 10 minute reflection by Jurij Krpan
Dr. Ellen ter Gast – Do we need ethical institutions, reflecting on Rewilding, the performance of Jennifer Willet, Kira O’Reilly?
– Jurij Krpan, director Kapelica Gallery, Ljbljana
– Dr. Ellen ter Gast
– Marleen Stikker, director Waag Society
Moderation Lucas Evers

Making public – How do we make this research public? 14.15 – 15.25
– 10 minute reflection by Agnieszka Anna Wolodzko
Adam Bencard: Can Trust me I’m an artist make bio ethics public, reflecting on Gina Czarnecki’s work Heirloom?
– Agnieszka Anna Wolodzko
– Lucas Evers
– Adam Bencard
Moderation Nicola Triscott

Launch of DIY pack of Trust me, I’m an artist
– Anna Dumitriu 15:25 – 15:30

Negotiating – Ethics are negotiated, aren’t they? 15.45 – 17.30
An afternoon dedicated to negociating the importance of Trust me I’m an Artist and staying away from consensus
– Dr. Baruch Gottlieb
– Lucas Evers
– Participation by all people present

CONCLUSIONS & WRAP, drinks 17.30 – 19.00