Lauren Lee McCarthy: Bodily Autonomy

Lauren Lee McCarthy: Bodily Autonomy

University of California, San Diego

Lauren Lee McCarthy, Saliva, 2022. Performance. Photo: Carla Schleiffer.

February 16, 2024
Lauren Lee McCarthy
Bodily Autonomy
March 2–May 25, 2024
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Opening celebration & graduate open studios: March 2, 2–6pm
University of California, San Diego
Mandeville Art Gallery
9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0406
La Jolla, California 92093
United States
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For the past fifteen years, Lauren Lee McCarthy has worked in performance, video, installation, software, artificial intelligence, and other media to address how an algorithmically determined world impacts human relationships and social life. Bodily Autonomy is McCarthy’s largest solo exhibition in the United States to date.

The show brings together two major works—Surrogate and Saliva—to examine bio-surveillance. Surrogate takes the form of performances, videos, and installations wherein McCarthy offers her body up as a remote-controlled surrogate to individuals and couples interested in having a child. This proposition is never fully realized by the artist, but it prompts important conversations regarding familial norms, legal barriers, genetic manipulation, gender, and reproduction. Saliva is a series of performances, installations, and videos about DNA sampling and data harvesting through the routine collection of swabs and spit. In a newly commissioned installation at the Mandeville Art Gallery, as a counter-gesture McCarthy has devised a saliva exchange station where visitors can trade their own samples with one another through the assistance of an attendant. The process sidesteps the anonymity of medical and corporate entities, and invites active discussions on data privacy, race, gender, and class as they pertain to genetic material. Together, Surrogate and Saliva encourage a potent and timely dialogue regarding bodily autonomy in times of rapid technological development and increased corporate and government surveillance.

Bodily Autonomy marks the official premiere of Saliva and Surrogate, both Creative Capital–funded projects.

The exhibition is accompanied by weekly activations of the performative installation “Saliva Bar” on Thursdays from 6-8pm, guided tours, talks and other public programs. All events are free and take place in person at the Mandeville Art Gallery, unless indicated otherwise. Please consult the gallery’s events page for more.

Curated by Ceci Moss, Director and Chief Curator of the Mandeville Art Gallery and Professor of Practice, Visual Arts

Lauren Lee McCarthy (she/they) examines social relationships in the context of automation, surveillance, and algorithmic living. She has received grants and residencies from Creative Capital, United States Artists, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sundance, Eyebeam, Pioneer Works, Autodesk, and Ars Electronica. Her work has been exhibited internationally, at the Barbican Centre, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Haus der elektronischen Künste, the Seoul Museum of Art, Chronus Art Center, SIGGRAPH, Onassis Cultural Center, IDFA DocLab, Science Gallery Dublin, the Japan Media Arts Festival, and beyond. McCarthy is the creator of p5.js, an open-source art and education platform that prioritizes access and diversity in learning to code, with more than ten million users. She expanded on this work in her time on the board of directors for the Processing Foundation (2015–21), whose mission is to serve those who have historically not had access to technology, code, and art in learning software and visual literacy. McCarthy is a professor at UCLA Design Media Arts. She holds an MFA from UCLA and bachelor’s degrees in computer science and art and design from MIT.

Upcoming exhibitions
LaJuné McMillian: The Portal’s Keeper July 1–September 26, 2024. New media artist and creative technologist LaJuné McMillian will create a new site-specific commission exploring liberated Black realities for the exterior video façade of the Mandeville Art Gallery. McMillian will conduct a movement and meditation workshop with UC San Diego students using extended reality and physical computing to translate participants’ movement data into visuals for this new artwork.

About the Mandeville Art Gallery
The Mandeville Art Gallery, previously known as the University Art Gallery, is a long-standing fixture on the UC San Diego campus with a five-decade history of presenting innovative art in the context of a major research university. Managed by the School of Arts and Humanities and located on the west end of Mandeville Center, the gallery operates as an institute for transformative contemporary art serving both the university and the local community, and it newly re-opened after extensive renovations in March 2023.

Hours: Thursday–Saturday, 12–8pm. Admission: free. Parking & directions.

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University of California, San Diego
February 16, 2024

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