Focus Artistic Research

Outer Woman

Project lead: Cordula Daus
Zentrum Fokus Forschung
Duration: 01.11.2020 - 31.10.2024
Austrian Science Fund (FWF): V 797 Richter Programm (inkl. Richter-PEEK)
https://base.uni-ak.ac.at/recherche/e:5fZSUusad348PFsXftrfJS
We’re all of women born. What if this fundamental biological fact was put into question? The artistic research project Outer Woman examines the concept of a creation and birth through an artificial womb.
 
The term ectogenesis – from the Greek ecto, ‘outer,’ and genesis, ‘origin, creation, generation’ denotes the development of embryos outside a uterus. Outer Woman assumes ectogenesis as actuality. It postulates that ectogenesis poses new requirements for different forms of artistic research, feminist thinking, scientific methodologies, performative practices, and language-based arts.
 
In her 1970 bestseller The Dialectic of Sex the feminist author Shulamith Firestone devised new ways of living and loving liberated from gravid wombs. According to her, technology has sufficiently evolved to question fundamental biological conditions, so much so that “the preconditions for a feminist revolution exist” and moreover “demand such a revolution.” The pivotal point for Firestone’s utopia is the abolition of natural birth. In her project Outer Woman the writer-artist Cordula Daus follows the traces of Firestone to inquire about the state of the art in the biological sciences, and develop alternate scenarios of gestation beyond the mother. In the course of her investigation, she’ll create a script for an artificial uterus. A new woman will be born: Dee. She’ll be the first of her kind, an outer woman.
 
The project follows a set of artistic and scientific assumptions. Cordula Daus proposes scenes and characters that will be further explored and tested through workshops and field research. Dee and her world will thus not be created by one writer alone but in an environment of mutual exchange with bioscientists, midwives, philosophers, bioethicists, as well as other researchers, performers, and artists. They will not only provide materials for Dee’s story but collaborate in the development of new methods of artistic research and writing.
 
Ectogenesis is already an active field of scientific research, and out of the realm of speculative fiction. Dee just seems to be a question of time.
 
The project Outer Woman aims to produce a new female character in the framework of a semifictional creation account. The artificial uterus will become a stage. This is where we encounter Dee. She’s about to give a monologue. What is she going to say?