Rodent leather and designer kidneys: art in the age of bio-revolution

Bespoke breasts, cloned frog meat and a gold gimp suit all feature in a remarkable new exhibition exploring the cutting edge of science

John A Douglas has a lot to thank medical science for – not least the new kidney he received in 2014 from an anonymous donor. “Since the operation, I’ve become a gym bunny, and lost 35 kilograms,” says the Australian artist over Skype. “But the main thing is I’d be dead otherwise.”

Still, the procedure left him with complicated feelings to process. “I was absolutely devastated after the surgery. At the beginning, you lose your sense of self. I’ve been surgically altered with the DNA and tissue of another person. So in a sense I’m a post-human whose death has been deferred at the cost of lifelong compliance programmes of medication, diet and fitness. My body will be monitored and observed for the rest of my life. In a sense it’s not my body any more – it’s been successfully invaded.”

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