Lecture: Lucy Beech, Tamar Novick, and Cooking Sections

Disruptive Animality: The Productive Infertility of the Freemartin


October 2, 2021 14.00

Freemartin Frank Rottray Lillie’nin “freemartin” modeli, K. Toda (1916)
MBLWHOI Kütüphanesi Nadir Yayınlar Koleksiyonu
Frank Rottray Lillie's model of the freemartin, by K. Toda (1916)
MBLWHOI Library Rare Book Collection
SALT Online YouTube Channel

Artist Lucy Beech and historian of science Tamar Novick present an online lecture that engages with ritual practices for increasing productivity and extracting value from infertility. This presentation, accompanying the exhibition CLIMAVORE: Seasons Made to Drift, at SALT Beyoğlu is developed from Beech and Novick’s ongoing experimental writing project, which explores the attempts to know, define, and detect the biological phenomenon known as the freemartin—a female calf that is born as a twin with a male and is sterile as a result of exposure to masculinizing hormones produced by the male.

Knowing, sensing, and using the freemartin’s disruptive animality has built the foundations of modern embryology, fueled a revolution in immunology, and streamlined agricultural breeding, prompting a flow of biological materials from laboratories to farm. Unable to lactate or procreate, the freemartin’s reproductive incompetence singles it out from the herd. Harnessing the freemartin involves using the senses as a means of interpretation but extracting value from it on the farm has also involved transforming the animal itself into an interpretive tool as a heat detecting biotechnology. The freemartin is often associated with finding coherency out of confusion or underscoring culturally dominant ideas about gender and sexuality, in order to reinforce normative values at human, bodily, and social scales.

Together Beech and Novick explore how taste, tone, texture, and color were used to try and grasp the freemartin and extract value from its infertility. The lecture will be followed by a conversation between the presenters and Cooking Sections (Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe). The talk will be held in English and is open to all.

The exhibition CLIMAVORE: Seasons Made to Drift at SALT Beyoğlu is on view until October 24.

Garanti BBVA is the founder of SALT.