Fecund Videos


“… Adrienne Outlaw’s Fecund videos require that the viewer peer into breast-like conical forms arranged across the wall in order to discover what fecund processes are referred to by the title. Alternative answers are presented in the form of tiny videos installed within each form. Some videos capture intimate scenes of babies suckling, fetal kicking, fingers fluttering, and a nursing mother’s breast draining. Others apply the word ‘fecund’ to state-of-the-art microscopic imaging that probes the miniscule realms where new life stirs and takes form. The videos convey the complexity of reconciling advanced technological discoveries with the traditional role of mother as incubator, feeder, and nurturer of infants.”  —  Excerpt from Linda Weintraub’s essay, Take Care? Take Care! for the TAKE CARE: Biomedical Ethics in the Twenty-first Century Exhibition Catalog, 2012

“… Viewers must peer into conelike shapes painted the color of light flesh, which gives the impression of peering through the nipple of a breast into the interior of a body. Inside, small video screens contain looped clips that range from Outlaw breastfeeding her baby (the distorted image has sexual connotations) to cellular division and embryonic blood flow recorded in the lab of her biophysicist husband. The series alludes to Outlaw’s concern about the growing distance between technological advances and the bioethics field.  —  Excerpt from Rebecca Dimling Cochran’s review of Outlaw’s show Witches Brew at Whitespace Gallery for Art in America p 102-103, Oct. 2011

“When making choices regarding survival, how do we navigate the complicated ethics surrounding what we can do as opposed to what we should do when it comes to practices in biotechnology? Adrienne Outlaw’s Fecund Series installation of biomorphic forms combined with natural and synthetic materials encourages viewers to consider the consequences, both good and bad, of the most challenging biotech issues facing us today.”  —  Excerpt from Rhiannon Mercer’s essay, We are Made to Morf, for the Artificial Selection Catalog, 516 Arts, Albuquerque, NM, 2010

“The definition of the word mother is … one who gives birth and/or nourishes and protects. … But where are these meanings and images headed when scientists are genetically engineering human embryos, performing womb transplants, cultivating human embryos in animal eggs, and cloning human embryos using adult skin cells and donated human eggs? That seems to be the vital question that resonates throughout Adrienne Outlaw’s Fecund series: What does it mean to be a mother in the age of biotechnology? … By reducing the concept of woman to a repeated erotic body part the artist is borrowing the powerful vernacular of 1970s feminist art. Similar to Vicki Hodgett’s fried eggs, which slowly transformed into breasts covering the walls in Nurturant Kitchen, an installation within Womanhouse in 1972, Outlaw has again reclaimed the breast as more than just an aesthetic object.”  —  Excerpt from Tonya Vernooy’s essay, Evolution of Motherhoodfor the TAKE CARE: Biomedical Ethics in the Twenty-first Century Exhibition Catalog, 2012

“…Activated by hidden sources, engaging videos from contemporary biophysics animate many of the works, disclosing intricacies of the natural world usually hidden from sight: for example, multi-colored blood vessels in a mouse’s pancreas or cell division in yeast.”  —  Excerpt from Dorothy Joiner’s review of Outlaw’s exhibit Witches Brew at Whitespace Gallery for World Sculpture Magazine, Vol. 17, No 4, 2011

“Adrienne Outlaw intersperses colorful scientific videos of the embryonic heart and blood flow using such techniques as confocal microscopy with pictures of the dailiness of mothering and taking care—breastfeeding, snuggling, nurturing. The science is spectacular, but which is the more wonderful?”  —  Excerpt from Ellen Wright Clayton, Taking Care, for the TAKE CARE: Biomedical Ethics in the Twenty-first Century Exhibition Catalog, 2012


The Fecund Video Series explores ethical issues stemming from the rapid advancement of biotechnologies – issues such as artificially sustaining those in persistent vegetative conditions; terminating abnormal fetuses; and using non-human cells to treat disease. To explore these ideas I work with scientists to select movies showing the latest advancements in biophysics and I make videos of intimate maternal scenes. I house the videos inside mirrored funnels so that viewers must peer inside to see the work.

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