looking around – cells

Cell Cultivation Art

Artist Cynthia Verspaget, back in  2004 created the Anarchy Cell Line (TAnCL). This is a line of cells based on Cynthia’s own blood and HeLa cells. HeLa cells are commonly purchased for experimentation and used in labs, their originary cells were taken without consent from African American Henrietta Lacks in the 1950s.

“…the issues, concerns and questions I had concerning tissue ownership, lab techniques and the production of systems which set about disconnecting the social from the petri dish.

… Ambiguous boundaries were revealed through the very act of demarcation via the deliberate manipulation of cells, separated from the body.  These categories found firstly instinctively and eventually through contemplation, are also shared by other symbolic monsters like the zombie (living – dead, human – non human). 

HeLa had already been called monstrous, ‘combinations’ (and the less ambiguous term ‘hybrids’) are monstrous (HeLa and Cynthia is a combination creation), women’s bodies are leaky – monstrous, ‘othered’ bodies are monstrous…  Rather than these terms being a rationale for expulsion, I found they offered potential for those that dwell in more than one category to break down boundaries not reinforce them.  Monsters are filled with the potential for change, undoing, and opening up distinctions. Not only was there an ethical issue with the history of the procurement of HeLa cell line but there was an opportunity to seek out connections, to identify intersections for potential revelation and to perhaps seek out new metaphors to facilitate interrogation of these processes.”

Cynthia Verspaget

Cynthia verspaget - The Anarchy Cell Line

Cynthia Verspaget - The Anarchy Cell Line




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