Lauren Lee McCarthy: Bodily Autonomy

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Lauren Lee McCarthy: Bodily Autonomy

For the past fifteen years, Lauren Lee McCarthy has worked in performance, video, installation, software, artificial intelligence, and other media to address how an algorithmically determined world impacts human relationships and social life. Bodily Autonomy is McCarthy’s largest solo exhibition in the United States to date.


The show brings together two major works —Surrogate and Saliva—to examine bio-surveillance. Surrogate takes the form of performances, videos, and installations wherein McCarthy offers her body up as a remote-controlled surrogate to individuals and couples interested in having a child. This proposition is never fully realized by the artist, but it prompts important conversations regarding familial norms, legal barriers, genetic manipulation, gender, and reproduction. Saliva is a series of performances, installations, and videos about DNA sampling and data harvesting through the routine collection of swabs and spit. In a newly commissioned installation at the Mandeville Art Gallery, as a counter-gesture McCarthy has devised a saliva exchange station where visitors can trade their own samples with one another through the assistance of an attendant. The process sidesteps the anonymity of medical and corporate entities, and invites active discussions on data privacy, race, gender, and class as they pertain to genetic material. Together, Surrogate and Saliva encourage a potent and timely dialogue regarding bodily autonomy in times of rapid technological development and increased corporate and government surveillance.

Bodily Autonomy marks the official premiere of Saliva and Surrogate, both Creative Capital–funded projects. The opening coincides with Graduate Open Studios at the Visual Arts Facility.


Event Date
March 2, 2024
Event Time
02:00 PM


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Mandeville Art Gallery, Mandeville Lane, La Jolla, CA, USA
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Visual Arts UC San Diego

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