Kira O’Reilly: Untitled (Bodies), London book launch

The works of interdisciplinary artist Kira O’Reilly use the uncertain boundaries of bodies as the starting point for their enquiry. Specifically, O’Reilly asks what kind of societies become possible in collaborations across species, organisms and bodies, and she explores these questions through sustained and experimental engagements with politics, biopolitics, change (social, corporeal, chemical, reactive) and the complex relations between the human and the non-human.

Kira O’Reilly: Untitled (Bodies), edited by Harriet Curtis and Martin Hargreaves, is the first book to offer an in-depth engagement with her many works across diverse formats. Bringing together writings by major artists and thinkers, such as Marina Abramovic, Shannon Bell and Tracey Warr, alongside extensive documentation of the artist’s work from two decades of practice, the contributions engage with such topics as ideas of performance, feminist political aesthetics, biotechnical practices, image-making and the intersections of humans and animals. The book also includes interviews, archive material and O’Reilly’s own writings.

This event will mark the publication of Kira O’Reilly: Untitled (Bodies).

Speakers include Kira O’Reilly, Harriet Curtis and Dominic Johnson, with invited guests Dr Rob La Frenais, Martin Hargreaves and Dr Janet Smith:

Dr Rob La Frenais is an independent contemporary art curator, working internationally and creatively with artists entirely on original commissions. He believes in being directly engaged with the artist’s working process as far as possible, while actively widening the context within which the artist can work. Before becoming a curator in 1987 he founded and edited the influential contemporary cultural journal Performance Magazine in 1979, editing and writing criticism internationally during the eighties. He has recently developed a contemporary project and website about Performance Magazine with the Live Art Development Agency. More information on

Martin Hargreaves is a dramaturg, writer, and performer and his research practices range between boredom and hysteria. His primary interests are in the recent history of contemporary dance, queer disappointment and camp misunderstandings. He is Director of Undergraduate Programmes at London Contemporary Dance School.

Until mid-2017 Dr Janet Smith was a Senior Lecturer in Biosciences at the University of Birmingham. She is now a full time writer poised between the completion of her first Poetry collection and the writing of a book. Following her degree in Genetics in 1981, her PhD (University of Edinburgh, 1985) detailed her work on the, then very new, methodology of isolating mouse embryonic stem cells. During this time she learnt and fell in love with tissue culture, acquiring skills which she spent twenty-five years refining and which have been the cornerstone of all her research. Janet Smith was born and raised in West Yorkshire from a long line of textile workers who taught her to knit and weave and instilled the meaning and touch of cloth. These early learned skills have been an important influence on her approach and direction as a scientist. Janet’s influential career in Biomedical sciences spans four decades and has included posts at the Universities of St Andrew’s where she worked on chick embryo development; London, Cambridge and Birmingham. Whilst a Senior Research Fellow in Cambridge she developed a novel method of isolating clonal populations of skeletal muscle stem cells which could be used to model and treat skeletal muscle disease and the skeletal muscle stem cell became a major focus of her laboratory and leading, in 2009, to a publication that establishes the symptoms of a severe childhood form of muscular dystrophy (DMD) beginning in the prenatal (embryonic) stages of development, a finding with huge potential significance for the diagnosis and treatment of DMD children.

Directions to venue

About the Publication

The editors: Harriet Curtis is a teaching fellow in performance studies and liberal arts at King’s College London. Martin Hargreaves is a writer, dramaturg and performer.

Co-published by the Live Art Development Agency and Intellect Books, as part of the Intellect Live book series.

The publication is supported by King’s College London, Queen Mary University of London, CAPP (Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme; an innovative four year collaborative arts programme co funded by the European Union), the Live Art Development Agency and Arts Council England. 

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