Trust Me, I’m an Artist: DNA Ancestry Testing with Larry Achiampong and David Blandy

Still from: “Finding Fanon Part One”, Larry Achiampong & David Blandy, 2015 (Photo: Claire Barrett)

Ancestry DNA testing has been widely embraced as a new way to understand our identity. But how does this removal of identity from its narrative and social dimension impact on understandings of race and relationships? And what is the scientific validity of this testing?

As part of a new project with Arts Catalyst, artists Larry Achiampong and David Blandy are each taking multiple Ancestry DNA tests. In this special event, the artists will present their findings and discuss the bioethical issues with a specially convened ethics committee of medical experts, geneticists and artists, chaired by ethicist Professor Bobbie Farsides, with Annie Kwan, Debbie Kennett, and Trevor Mathison of Dubmorphology.


Listen back!

This event forms part of Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA), an installation and programme critically addressing and re-thinking contemporary issues around race, migration, biopolitics and culture, through an Afrofuturist science fiction narrative and deep history perspective.

Organised in the framework of Trust Me, I’m an Artist, a European programme examining ethical issues that arise in relation to issues raised by modern biomedicine and genomics and their use by artists. Funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

Larry Achiampong (b. 1984) is a British-Ghanaian artist who has exhibited, performed and presented projects in various institutions within the UK and abroad including Tate Britain/Modern, London, UK; Hauptbahnhof (Documenta13), Kassel, Germany; Iniva, London, UK; ICA, London, UK; Yinka Shonibare’s Guest Project Space, London, UK; Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Ausland, Berlin, Germany; and the Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation, Accra, Ghana. His new work “Relic Traveller” will be shown at Jerwood Space, London in November as part of 3-Phase.
David Blandy (b. 1976) has exhibited at venues nationally and worldwide such as Tate Modern, London, UK; Bloomberg Space, London, UK; The Exchange, Newlyn Art Gallery, UK; Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland; The Baltic, Gateshead; Turner Contemporary, Margate; Spike Island, Bristol; Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Germany; MoMA PS1, New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, China. He is represented by Seventeen Gallery and his films are distributed by LUX. He will have a solo exhibition in November at Seventeen Gallery, London.
In Larry Achiampong & David Blandy's collaborative practice, they share an interest in popular culture and the post-colonial position. They examine communal and personal heritage, using performance to investigate the self as a fiction, devising alter-egos to point at their divided selves. They have had a recent solo screening & exhibitions at Tate Modern, London; Plymouth Arts Centre, UK & Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, Texas, USA.
With the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.