Associate Professor Eben Kirksey, with Tamara Pertamina presented the ninth ‘First Fridays’ seminar ‘The CRISPR Sperm Bank: Experience Trans-species Possibilities’ at Deakin Downtown on 2 November 2018.


Listen to Eben Kirksey with Tamara Pertamina on The CRISPR Sperm Bank: Experience Trans-species Possibilities

The CRISPR Sperm Bank: Experience Trans-species Possibilities

Tamara Pertamina is a transgender performance artist living in Indonesia. In June 2018 she created a new project—the CRISPR Sperm Bank—and pushed it through the streets of Yogyakarta. CRISPR-Cas9, a fast and cheap genetic engineering tool, has become a “hope technology” (cf. Franklin 1997). This molecule has become a sticky object that has collected together speculation about possible futures for the human species (see Kirksey, 2016; cf. Ahmed 2010). Tamara’s CRISPR Sperm Bank might be seen as a para-ethnographic object, a conversation piece, aimed at getting people to speak and think differently about consumer choices that could soon emerge with the field of synthetic biology. Her earlier performance art brought critical attention to synthetic chemistry and the toxic legacies of colonialism and global capitalism. Previously she played with make-up to bring attention to the use of skin-whitening products in East and Southeast Asia. Tamara Pertamina’s sperm bank opens up an opportunity to engage with a series of questions: How are political and economic forces structuring speculation about possible trans-genic futures? Whose hopes for CRISPR remain in the realm of abstract speculation and whose hopes are becoming increasingly concrete? Can queer theory guide creative ways for thinking about the potentialities of trans-biology?

About the Speakers

Tamara Pertamina was born in Tasikmalaya in 1989. In 2008 Tamara moved to Yogyakarta and worked as a busker until 2013. In 2006 Tamara has participated in the work of the transgender community, ranging from busking to sex work projects. In 2012-2014, Tamara was involved in the art project entitled Makcik Project (Yogyakarta), curated by Grace Samboh. Tamara’s works concern gender issues and sexuality, the history of transgender in Indonesia, religion, and humanity.



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