Key to the performance May the Horse Live in Me is the recognition that the core of the event could never be repeated, at the risk of inducing anaphylactic shock in the performer. The tension of such an overarching condition infuses this provocative self-experiment with high drama. Over several months, Laval-Jeantet was injected with certain horse tissue immunoglobulins and developed a tolerance to these foreign blood antibodies. She could then be safely injected with horse plasma during a dramatic one-hour performance held in Gallery Kapelica in Ljubljana, in February, 2011. Because of the immunoglobulin tolerance she had built up, the horse plasma could enter her blood stream and mix with her own blood. As a general rule, a person can only undergo such a challenge to body boundaries once and survive. After the injection, the artist mounted horse-leg stilts and performed a bonding ritual with the horse that was an integral part of the event, in the form of a walkabout. In preparation for the experiment, over a period of several years AOO had allied themselves with the scientific/medical system due to its researches into the possibility of healing autoimmune diseases using foreign immunoglobulins as therapeutic “boosters.” But in the final analysis, their foray into human/animal “blood-sisterhood” is an outlier act, in the spirit of other performance art premised on edgy social statement – Schneeman, Nitsch or Orlan, for instance. Here, the statement is cross-species empathy, with the artists attempting to bridge the seemingly invincible communication divide between us and the other creatures. The gesture enacts the living pole of Donna Haraway’s hugely influential animal-human-machine cyborg construct, which describes a continuum of trans-species interrelationships that is at the core of life and artificial life.
About the authors
The artistic partnership of Marion Laval-Jeantet and Benoit Mangin began in Paris in 1991. The duo, that calls itself Art oriente objet, places ecology, defined as the scientific interrogation of the conditions of our existence, at the center of its artistic preoccupations. From the beginning their output has included installation, performance, video, and photography dealing with the various themes around Life. This approach is inclusive enough to have led their work into the domains of biology, behavioral sciences (their work in psychology and ethology introduced a strong animal presence), ecology, and ethnology leading to poetic and surprising art that is both visionary and political. Their work relating to biotechnology has earned them a place within the BioArt movement and they are often counted among the artists at the frontier between art and science. In addition, they can be considered as social observer artists or as anthropologist artists who promote experimentation on systems that they formally analyze. Furthermore, Marion faces these issues head on as a professional practitioner of ethnology and psychology.