Workshop with Maja Smrekar

As part of my collaboration with Hangar in the area of research, I have coordinated this workshop with Maja Smrekar and with the support of IRB and the Quo Artis Foundation.

Workshop with Maja Smrekar for artists and other curious hybrids on reproduction and inter_specie companion. In this workshop we will follow the reproductive process of sea urchins in relation to the work of the artist and the distinction between fertilization, in vitro fertilization and cloning.

All mammals produce gametes. Sea urchin’s eggs and sperm (about 700 different species worldwide) are similar to our own and therefore these animals have been studied already in the 19th century as model organisms in developmental biology. Since their embryos are easy to observe, they can provide valuable information on fertilization and development that apply to all organisms from jelly fish to humans.

Beside using sea urchin eggs and sperm to provide a model embryo for understanding development in all forms, these species are commonly used as indicator organisms in environmental studies. Their development standards are being tested for the presence of water pollution by environmental agencies and even some public aquariums take into account an adult sea urchin’s health as an indicator of the water quality in their tanks. Discoveries of interruptions or alterations of normal development in sea urchins therefore provide valuable evidence of harm regarding life in the sea and ultimately humans.

During the workshop we will be collaborating with a group of sea urchins. After properly introduced, we will be executing some laboratory protocols in order to be able to fertilize several small batches of eggs and observe a few steps in their fertilization under a microscope. Despite the fact that sea urchin fertilization takes much less time than in cases of mammals, we should be expecting some time gaps between different stages and therefore the workshop will be accompanied with lectures. By establishing our workshop process as a model reference to define the difference between fertilization, in vitro fertilization and clonning, a juxtaposed reference meeting point will be Maja Smrekar’s project “K-9_topology: ARTE_mis” (2017), whithin which she and her collaborators performed in vitro situation for one of the reproductive cells to be substituted by a non-human somatic in order to produce a hybrid cell, preserved in a frozen state as a molecular sculpture.

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