Mary Overman

Student Artist-in-Residence 2008-09
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Artist Statement




The new science-based ability to remake man after his fantasies extends the boundaries of what it means to be human and questions the nature of human activity and flourishing. Biomedical technology has resulted in gains in health and longevity, which have increased the desire for more, not only in the realm of therapy (the treatment of individuals with known diseases or disabilities), but likewise in enhancement (the alteration or intervention in not the diseased, but the “normal” workings of the human body and psyche).

Standards of acceptance are continually changing. What is unacceptable today may be conventional tomorrow, so how are we to control this level and haste of progression? Will this attitude towards obtaining mastery and control lead to entropy, or will our ability to scrutinize and commitment to ethics continue to compel dialogue within this field?

My work has a foundation in bioethics, the ethics of medical and biological research, within cosmetic procedures. I use these procedures as a metaphor: impressions of freedom from the infirmities of age by external change represents creating a distance from death. We can try to stop the entire process of biological senescence, but we are in the forefront of this development and we have not reached that point, and can we reach it? Modesty and humility about what we know, what we can do to ourselves, and our capabilities of ascension are integral to the way I view my work.

Identity is defined as “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is”, but the politics of identity would have this definition changed. Instead, within the biotechnological realm, identity has become something of a contradiction. It can now be defined as a quality with an enduring transient nature.