The performance Que le cheval vive en moi* is an extreme, medical self-experiment with a blood-brotherhood beyond species boundaries. With this performance the French duo Art Orienté objet calls for greater ecological responsibility from humans, whose technologies increasingly instrumentalize other animals and plants.
The artist Marion Laval-Jeantet has turned herself into a proverbial “guinea pig,” allowing herself to be injected over the course of several months with horse immunoglobulins (glycoproteins that circulate in the blood serum, and which, for example, can function as antibodies in immune response) and thus developing a progressive tolerance to these foreign animal bodies.
Having built up her tolerance, she was able to be injected with horse blood plasma containing the entire spectrum of foreign immunoglobulins, without falling into anaphylactic shock—the intention being that the horse immunoglobulins would by-pass the defensive mechanisms of her own human immune system, enter her blood stream to bond with the proteins of her own body and, as a result of this synthesis, have an effect on all major body functions.
Immunoglobulins are biochemical messengers that control, for example, the glands and organs of the endocrine system, which is also closely tied to the nervous system, so that the artist, during and in the weeks after the performance, experienced not only alterations in her physiological rhythm but also of her consciousness, which were characterized by heightened sensibility and nervousness.
After the transfusion, Marion Laval-Jeantet, on stilts, performed a communication ritual with a horse before her hybrid blood was extracted and freeze-dried.
This risky undertaking alludes to the possibility of healing autoimmune diseases using foreign immunoglobulins as therapeutic “boosters.” Here, as the artists maintain, “the animal becomes the future of the human.”
As a radical experiment whose long-term effects cannot be calculated, Que le cheval vive en moi questions the anthropocentric attitude inherent to our technological understanding. Instead of trying to attain “homeostasis,” a state of physiological balance, with this performance, the artists sought to initiate a process of “synthetic transi-stasis,” in which the only constant is continual transformation and adaptation. The performance represents a continuation of the centaur myth, that human-horse hybrid which, as “animal in human,” symbolizes the antithesis of the rider, who as human dominates the animal.
I had the feeling of being extra-human, I was not in my usual body. I was hyper-powerful, hyper-sensitive, hyper-nervous and very diffident. the emotionalism of an herbivore. I could not sleep. I probably felt a bit like a horse.
— Marion Laval-Jeantet